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Tennessee Private Colleges Collaborate to Save the Environment


Nashville, TN - The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association Go Green! Project is among the first collaborations of its kind in the nation, consisting of multiple learning opportunities and initiatives geared toward increasing environmental stewardship on member campuses through the efforts of students, faculty, and staff.


By working together, member institutions of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) are able to assist each other in reducing each campus’ environmental impact beyond simply meeting regulatory requirements. Colleges have saved money on consultation fees and reduced their liability to federal fines, while unifying the campus constituents in efforts to increase environmental awareness. Susanna Baxter, TICUA Chief Operating Officer, states, “By working together, our member campuses have become role models of environmental stewardship to each other, their students, and their communities. In collaborating through the TICUA Go Green! Project, each campus is able to reap rewards way beyond what you would expect from their financial commitments.”


The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to more closely monitor activities on college campuses, and has embraced a program under which campuses can join together to conduct “peer audits” as a way to ensure compliance with EPA standards, avoid fines, and be responsible stewards of the environment. Thirty colleges in Tennessee have formed a coalition through TICUA and the TICUA Go Green! Project. TICUA fashioned the Go Green! Project after their sister association in Pennsylvania, which created the peer-audit concept for their colleges and universities.


Brian Foshee, Director of Physical Plant at Rhodes College is impressed with the TICUA Go Green! Project: “Since Rhodes has become a part of the TICUA Go Green! Project it is evident on our campus that students, faculty, and staff have become more unified in their efforts to maintain an environmentally sound campus. Also, as a peer auditor, the benefits of the multi-campus approach to the peer audit process has been invaluable. The information and ideas shared and the collaboration between campuses has had a positive impact on our environmental management program.”


The cornerstone of the TICUA Go Green! Project is voluntary peer-audits of campus facilities. These audits enable campuses to be proactive in developing protocols and procedures in line with acceptable environmental standards.


Campuses involved with the program have experienced success through expanding environmental consciousness into many aspects of campus life. In the classroom, students are learning the most current environmental standards, which they will then bring with them to the workforce. Institutions are increasing recycling and reducing waste as part of administrative policy decisions such as going “trayless” in cafeterias, using low-energy light bulbs, and relying on electronic transmission of material rather than printing documents.


Most importantly, this program involves all levels of campus personnel, and more so than any top-down approach has had the effect of motivating individuals on campus to be environmentally conscious. “Rhodes participation in the project has paid off many times over.  Our community is more engaged in supporting sustainability on campus,” said Rhodes College President William Troutt.


TICUA campuses have taken the peer-audit process one step further and have addressed the sustainability of sound environmental practices and policies. In January 2009, the TICUA Go Green! Project sponsored the first of a four-part training series on Environmental Management Systems. This two-year training process offers information to increase campus’ ability to review and maintain policies and procedures beneficial to environmental stewardship. Through these efforts, campuses will sustain the positive changes they have made as a result of the peer audits. Since the institutions are pooling their resources, each campus pays roughly three times less than had they contracted on their own to provide this training.


In fall 2008, TICUA member colleges and universities throughout the State enrolled more nearly 69,000 students.  TICUA membership includes 31 four-year colleges and universities, and 3 professional colleges. TICUA engages Tennessee's private colleges and universities to work collaboratively in areas of public policy, cost containment, and professional development to better serve the state and its citizens.  For more information about TICUA, please visit our website at www.ticua.org.