Southern Oregon University has been nationally recognized for our commitment to operational sustainability. SOU was recently honored with the Best Case Study Award by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, was the first university in the nation to certify as a Bee Campus USA, and now boasts LEED Gold campus housing.
Energy consumption on campus is the largest source of the university’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Southern Oregon University is committed to reducing its energy consumption through conservation and efficiency, in addition to increasing onsite renewable energy generation.
Reducing the amount of waste, for example, through leasing, procurement, and reuse is the best option. However, where we produce waste, we aim to divert as much as possible away from landfill through recycling. At SOU we recycle a number of material streams. A Recycling Program with an on-campus recycling center for glass, plastics, paper, cardboard, and cans was founded by students in 2011 as part of a capstone project focused on diverting waste from the landfill. This is supported by indoor and outdoor central collection points.
The Green Fund is a self-imposed student fee of $10-$15 per term paid by each student. Projects that have been funded in the past include the Stevenson Union solar installation and The Farm at SOU. Projects can be big or small but must contribute to sustainability at SOU. Simply download the Green Fund Application and contact the Environmental Affairs Committee to submit your request.
In April of 2015, SOU became the first ever Bee Campus USA. We have planted five pesticide-free pollinator gardens on campus so far and continue to incorporate native, pollinator-friendly plant species across campus. In addition, Landscape Services hosts an annual Arbor Day festival and holds a Tree Campus USA award for our work promoting our community forest on campus.
SOU Dining manages several cafes, restaurants, and cafeterias across campus and showcases local farms’ produce in meals. Vegetarian and vegan meal options are always available for students. SOU Dining sources a portion of its food directly from SOU’s own student farm and is also available for sale through SOU Dining at The Landing, a campus CSA, and at the weekly Raiders Farm Stand.
Raider Village’s construction is sourced with 26% of materials within 500 miles and diverted a staggering 86% of construction waste from the landfill. Students enjoy daylit common spaces, thermostat controls for each unit, and bicycle storage in each room. The site features six electric vehicle charging stations and 160 covered bicycle stalls. Raider Village hosts the campus’ largest rooftop photovoltaic solar systems and uses solar hot water heating.
SOU’s Facilities Management and Planning Department contributes to our commitment to sustainability, focusing on resource conservation and sustainable operations. Facilities also contribute to energy efficiency and water conservation through initiatives such as lighting retrofits, occupancy sensors, and solar systems that generate 315,000 kWh hours annually.