Assignment: Eco-Friendly Campuses
Universities are going green. How can landscape architects help?
By Meg Calkins, ASLA
The environmental crisis is at heart a crisis of ideas," writes
Oberlin College's David Orr, author of Ecological Literacy and other
books on education, campuses, and the environment. "As such, higher
education is deeply implicated in the crisis and strenuously obliged
to address it."
While inquiry and ideas are the stuff of higher education, examination
of the campus environment and impacts of campus operations have
not, until recently, been questioned. David Eagan, in The Campus
and Environmental Responsibility, a book he coauthored with Orr,
suggests the reason is the "ivory tower syndrome," where the university
is walled off from the rest of the world. And yet, he writes, "At
the University of Wisconsin [a typical state university], the impact
of 60,000 individuals, a billion-dollar budget, 220 buildings, 900
acres, 12 miles of roads, and 4 miles of lakeshore is about as real-world
as you can get." While most environmental efforts have focused on
the formal curriculum, students are receiving a conflicting message
from the institution's built environment: patterns of consumption
and production of waste.
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