Topics: Sustainability/Environment, Geothermal

June 21, 2012

Ball State University was honored this week for its across-the-board efforts at environmental stewardship by an international organization that includes some of the world's most prestigious colleges and universities.

The International Sustainable Campus Network named Ball State the winner of its first Excellence in Integration Award, recognizing the exceptional breadth and depth of the university's sustainability programs.

Network officials announced the award on June 20 during this year's annual meeting at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Specific Ball State efforts highlighted in the entry include:

  • Council on the Environment that includes students, faculty and administrators to oversee communication and education programs and support sustainability efforts throughout the campus
  • an academic minor in sustainability, featuring a sequence of undergraduate courses in which students are exposed to an array of relevant issues.
  • the university's Silver rating from the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education through its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which measures performance in a number of categories.
  • a transportation program that features hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles and a ride-matching system for carpoolers
  • commitment to "green" buildings, with all new construction LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified and most construction waste recycled.
  • the largest geothermal heating and cooling system of its kind in the nation. When completed, the system will allow the university to save $2 million per year in operating costs and cut its carbon footprint roughly in half.

Robert J. Koester, chairman of Ball State's Council on the Environment and a professor of architecture, said the award is welcome recognition.

"The long-term development and comprehensiveness of our approach is unique among campuses throughout the world," said Koester, who also is director of the university's Center for Energy Research/Education/Service. "We were a perfect candidate for this recognition."

The International Sustainable Campus Network is dedicated to helping college, university and corporate campuses around the world exchange ideas and best practices for integrating sustainability into their teaching, research and operational practices.

Among the network's charter institutions are Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

By Vic Caleca, senior media relations manager