Senior environmental science major Bianca Peixoto has been passionate about sustainability and environmental protection for as long as she can remember. As the president of the campus group Student Action for Sustainability, Bianca believes that every step taken to reduce our impact on the planet is worthwhile, even the small ones. That’s why her group is leading the campus celebration of Earth Day this month. “We hope it encourages others to take an interest in sustainability, expand their viewpoints, and see why we’re so passionate about what we’re doing,” she said.
The celebration will include daily activities from April 21 to 25, each day on a different theme, and a festival on the Quad on April 24 featuring informative exhibits from student groups and local environmental organizations, a tree planting ceremony and other fun activities designed to draw people in and generate enthusiasm for living in a sustainable way.
It’s our responsibility to make sure students have command of the principles of sustainability when they graduate so they can incorporate them into their lives. This is the perfect living laboratory. ~ Marsha Garcia, sustainability officer
But at URI, the focus on living green doesn’t just happen on Earth Day. It’s an every day activity. That’s why URI has been recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s greenest colleges for five consecutive years. It starts with our buildings, no fewer than ten of which are designed to LEED certification standards for their eco-friendly design features – including the super-efficient pharmacy building with its unique air handling and heating and cooling systems, the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences with its “vegetative” roof that filters pollutants and reduces heating and cooling needs, the award-winning Hope Commons Dining Hall, the stunning Ocean Science and Exploration Center, and four residence halls.
Green buildings, however, are just the beginning of all that’s green at URI. We’re committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship in most everything we do, from academic programs to student activities. Even our research ship, the R/V Endeavor, has been modified to run on refined biodiesel, making it the first research ship in the U.S. fleet to use the alternative fuel.
URI is also committed to achieving climate neutrality, and we’re on target to reduce our campus greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. We grow produce for the dining halls on campus farmland, sell used cooking oil to a local company to be converted to biodiesel, and beginning this fall, we will offer a Sustainability Living Learning Community where like-minded students can live together and work on projects to engage their interests in sustainability.
Because many of our students want to pursue careers that put their environmental passions to work, we launched one of the nation’s first undergraduate programs focused on green business—a four-year, dual-major program that combines business and environmental economics. And there’s our Blue MBA—a graduate program that blends business with oceanography, preparing future leaders in the strategic management of global climate change. And any student, regardless of their major, can minor in sustainability.
Marsha Garcia, the University’s sustainability officer, said: “It’s our responsibility to make sure students have command of the principles of sustainability when they graduate so they can incorporate them into their lives. This is the perfect living laboratory.”