Students > Campus Examples & Student Testimonials

Yale University

Yale University is home to the nation’s first athletics and recreation greening program driven by student-athletes. Since establishing Bulldog Sustainability in 2008, students have motivated Yale’s athletics department and many sports teams across campus to improve their environmental performance. The Bulldog Sustainability student team, with support from the Yale athletics department and the Office of Sustainability, helped set greener policies for athletic offices, launched a Green Athletics Team Certification program for all sports teams, and assembled an Athletics Sustainability Action Plan that spans all sports facilities.

“Bulldog Sustainability’s student-led initiatives are essential to our success; as students develop their own projects, they are passionate and committed to seeing it through to fruition,” says team leader Diana Madson, a Masters of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (class of 2014).

The majority of Bulldog Sustainability initiatives begin as student project proposals, which are reviewed and approved by athletics department staff. The students decide what to research according to what they believe will have the most influence on campus culture, will be interesting to students and staff, will reduce the athletics department’s environmental impact, and will be possible to fund. Students have investigated a wide range of topics, from improving the water efficiency of Yale’s field hockey turf and transitioning the athletics department’s shuttle buses to biodiesel to upgrading the waste management plan for all athletics facilities by improving recycling bins and adding composting bins.

“We worked to provide environmental information and tips to the many constituencies affiliated with Yale athletics: athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni, campus partners, community members, and fans,” explains Sam Teicher, former club rugby player and Bulldog Sustainability research assistant (class of 2011). “We focused on raising awareness in new ways by using humor and taking advantage of our community’s love of sports.”

Students have also written business proposals for simple athletics office changes such as investing in reusable mugs instead of disposable cups (one student calculated that an average ceramic cup is 60 times less expensive on a per-use basis than paper cups over its lifetime). More complicated initiatives such as upgrading recycling receptacles and mapping their ideal placement were also studied.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania’s Athletics Eco-Reps team (comprising 13 student-athletes at its launch in September 2012) is part of Penn’s Green Campus Partnership, which works throughout the university to promote better environmental practices and policies. The Athletics Eco-Reps develop programs that help Penn’s sports teams and facilities adopt more sustainable practices.

 Each Eco-Rep chooses an environmental topic to research and then formulates practical solutions to help improve the environmental impact of Penn Athletics’ operations. Topics that Eco-Reps have focused on include energy conservation in Athletics facilities, waste and recycling practices among athletes, water conservation strategies, alternative transportation, and environmental education.

“Identifying issues and benchmarking were crucial to getting the program off and running,” says Athletics Eco-Rep and gymnast Sara Allen, class of 2015.

To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

Bowdoin College

Bowdoin Green Athletes, formed in the spring of 2012 at Bowdoin College, is a group of student-athletes committed to developing and implementing projects to enhance the sustainability of sports on campus. The group includes an executive committee that manages student-athlete representatives from all 50 campus sports teams to help shift the culture toward supporting the college’s sustainability goals.

“Partnerships between the athletics department, the sustainability office, and the facilities management department are critical to successful sports greening at Bowdoin,” says Bowdoin Green Athletes cofounder Alex Tougas, class of 2014. “Student sustainability groups are important for strengthening those partnerships.”

Green Athletes operates numerous recycling initiatives at athletics contests, including participation in the Game Day Challenge at the homecoming football game in the fall of 2012, where they achieved an 82 percent waste diversion rate. Green Athletes achieved a waste diversion rate of 88 percent at a 2012 men’s basketball game with the help of fan education campaigns and added infrastructure. Other projects include on-campus speaker events and an athletic shoe recycling project, done in conjunction with the charitable organization Rerun Shoes, which supports micro-entrepreneurs in Africa.

To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

University of Washington

At the University of Washington, student-athletes are represented on the athletic sustainability committee and contribute to the department’s efforts with project ideas of their own. For example, students integrated sustainability into the Washington Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s annual “Dawg Bowl” competition among the school’s varsity teams. Teams are awarded points for accomplishments in areas such as athletic achievement, academic achievement, community service, life skills, and, as of February 2012, sustainability.

Student-athletes can now earn points for team greening efforts such as adding composting to a team lounge or environmental social media outreach. Additionally, any UW student can gain valuable professional development experience through an Athletic Sustainability Internship or volunteer opportunities. Student volunteers can earn free admission to games when staffing Green Team education booths at Husky Stadium and the Alaska Airlines Arena, where they distribute environmental information and green-themed giveaways to fans.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

Columbia University

In January 2012, student-athletes formed a Columbia University Athletics environmental organization called “EcoLions.” The students launched a shoe reuse program with Shoebox Recycling and have donated more than 200 pairs of shoes for reuse to date. They have also worked closely with the athletics department to roll out an environmental education campaign, posting signs and green tips throughout team locker rooms and athletics buildings.

“EcoLions is a group we created as part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee,” says varsity athlete and EcoLions founder Emma Tuzinkiewicz (class of 2015). “We work closely with the athletics administration and have support from the Columbia Office of Environmental Stewardship to help make Columbia’s sports operations more environmentally friendly. We are very excited to expand our sports greening projects in partnership with the Ivy Green Initiative and with help from the Natural Resources Defense Council.”

To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

University of North Texas

A greening project can provide students with a stronger and lasting connection to their school, according to University of North Texas Athletics Director Rick Villarreal. With a program as simple as tree planting around our softball field, Athletics can give their student-athletes a sense of ownership, pride, and responsibility. From the perspective of the athletics department, that’s a great way to make sure students invest in and will stay part of the Mean Green community, to ensure they feel connected to the university years after graduating. That alumni connection is vital, and sports greening efforts help strengthen it. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.