UL Lafayette earns national award for stewardship of the environment


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is one of 11 universities to receive the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Postsecondary Sustainability Award.

Award recipients were cited for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie said the University is honored to be chosen for the national recognition. “From our founding president planting live oaks, to all that we do today in the classroom, labs, research, community service and operational functions, the University remains committed to environmental sustainability and innovation,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Education noted the University’s reputation for stewardship of the environment. “This long‐standing environmental ethic supports the university’s mission to explore solutions to national and world issues through instruction, research, service, and exemplary leadership,” it states in a report.

That report covers many examples of UL Lafayette’s efforts, such as:
• students’ grassroots movement to implement a campus recycling program in 2010;
• development of its first Comprehensive Sustainability Policy;
• scheduled maintenance and renovation that optimizes older buildings on campus by replacing windows, lighting, and heating and air conditioning equipment with more energy-efficient options; and
• making sure that food services operates in an environmentally responsible manner that reduces food waste and uses locally produced or sustainably harvested products whenever feasible.

The report notes that UL Lafayette introduced Geaux Vélo Bikeshare at the end of January 2016. The University earned a Bronze Bike Friendly University designation by The League of American Bicyclists; it's the first university in Louisiana to receive that honor.

For seven straight years, UL Lafayette has been designated a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

“In 2015, the University formalized the Campus Forest Management Policy to guide campus design and construction and maintain a zero net loss of trees through preservation and mitigation practices. The grounds staff focuses on reducing the need for landscape water use by planting native landscaping that is drought resistant, and by keeping a heavy layer of mulch on all landscaped beds and around trees,” the report states.

The U.S. Department of Education singled out UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering for its energy research and development. “The interdisciplinary Energy Institute is an internationally recognized comprehensive research unit for energy development, usage, policy, and impact on the ecological and human condition. Examples of cutting-edge research projects include bio-diesels from algae, green chemicals, new reflector materials for solar thermal power production, and waste gas recycling,” its report states.

It also cited the University’s “Building Design Institute, along with a Coastal Community Resilience Studio, which addresses the complexities of restoration along the coast.”

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries nominated UL Lafayette for the U.S. Department of Education award. Wildlife and Fisheries chose the University as the first, and only, higher education institution in the state to earn its “Green Ribbon School” designation in March.