Main Hall is seen among the fall colors of October. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Ongoing sustainability efforts on campus have landed Lawrence University on a listing of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges.

The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition, released in late October, includes Lawrence among the 416 schools being highlighted for strong “sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs.”

Being chosen sends an important message to all Lawrentians, as well as prospective students, about Lawrence’s priorities, said Grace Subat, the university’s sustainability and special projects fellow.

“Sustainability is the future of everything,” she said. “We know the environmental crisis is just getting worse every day, and I think prospective students seeing that Lawrence is committed to and taking action on trying to combat that on our campus is really, really important.”

Lawrence’s Presidential Committee on Sustainability oversees efforts to instill a culture of sustainable long-range planning, working with student organizations and other departments across campus to develop and implement programs and practices that enhance good environmental stewardship. Projects such as the student-run Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (SLUG), partnerships with Bon Appétit, recycling efforts, and research on bees and other pollinators have highlighted some of that work.

To learn more about Lawrence’s sustainability efforts, see here.

Lawrence recently contracted with Johnson Controls on a $5.5 million upgrade of lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment to lower the campus’ utility consumption and reduce its carbon footprint. The ongoing project, which started this summer amid COVID-19 safety protocols, includes the installation of LED lighting in 17 buildings on campus, the replacement of chillers that serve the Music-Drama Center, Shattuck Hall, and Memorial Chapel, the replacement of inefficient steam traps campus wide, and upgrades to mechanical and fume hood systems in Steitz and Youngchild halls.

“No one is forcing us to put these measures in place,” Subat said of the sustainability-focused work. “We’re taking accountability for it and doing it ourselves. I think that is important to all Lawrentians and is going to draw prospective students who care about those issues. They know because they’ve grown up hearing all of the facts about climate change and what needs to be done.”

The Princeton Review, an education services company, has put out the Green Colleges guide each of the past 10 years, and Lawrence has consistently been on the list. Lawrence also landed on the Princeton Review’s 2021 guide to the Best 386 Colleges earlier this year, and it placed No. 3 in the ranking of Best Impact Schools in the country.

“Each and every one of the outstanding colleges in this edition of our guide offers both excellent academics and exemplary evidence of environmental commitment,” said Rob Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu