Our friends at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recently released their annual review of higher education sustainability, revealing skyrocketing support for green jobs training; an increased focus on creating food-secure communities; new efforts toward accessibility and affordability; and more energy-related and green building efforts than ever before.

Since 2006, AASHE has produced an annual review of higher education sustainability efforts over the previous year. These publications are comprised of news stories and resources captured in the weekly AASHE Bulletin e-newsletter. The goal of the report is to serve as a standard reference for who is doing what to advance sustainability in higher education.

“AASHE is pleased to present this important publication to our members each year – and to the wider public through our e-book version. It is exciting to chart the rapid growth of the campus sustainability movement through stories and data collected in the Bulletin,” said AASHE’s Director of Resources and Publications, Judy Walton. “This year we were especially pleased to see the growth in accessibility and affordability efforts, as well as green jobs training and creating food secure communities. We hope our readers enjoy the stories, interviews, case studies, synopses and trends that we’ve collected in this issue.”

Specifically, an analysis of 2011 stories shows:

  • The number of Bulletin stories dealing with higher education access and affordability increased from three in 2009 and four in 2010 to 36 in 2011.
  • Nearly 60 percent of all new programs or training opportunities focused on training students for renewable energy and green careers, with $543 million recorded toward the effort.
  • 284 energy-related initiatives were announced (including 97 new or planned solar installations and 34 completed or planned campus energy overhauls). This represents a 28 percent increase from 2010.
  • Food security efforts on higher education campuses made up the largest percentage of the Bulletin’s “Public Engagement” (33 percent) and “Dining Services” (64 percent) categories. Together with “Funding” and “Grounds” categories, these four categories yielded 79 food security initiatives.
  • 2011 saw increased synergies between community colleges and their local communities to address access to an affordable college education that results in strong job prospects and low student debt.
  • With 191 environmentally friendly building stories, there were more green building efforts on campus reported in the AASHE Bulletin in 2011 than ever before.
  • Solar energy research projects were the most widely reported item in the Bulletin’s “Research” category, with nearly $1.8 million in total investment.

The final section of the review takes a look at “what’s next,” profiling innovative campus-community partnerships toward resilient, secure, sustainable communities.

An e-book version of the “2011 Higher Education Sustainability Review” will be available to AASHE members and non-members through Amazon Kindle this month.

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