A recent trend among many state legislatures has been to significantly reduce — in some cases, to radically gut — the budgets of public universities and colleges. The long-term success of a public college has always been important, but many decision makers find it tough to make necessary spending cuts without receiving backlash. Rather than cutting an essential service needed by all, universities can simply encourage energy efficient practices, install effective appliances and remodel buildings so that less energy — and money — is spent to provide the same quality of service.

Encourage Energy-Saving Practices

Educating residents on energy reducing practices can empower students to take an active role in supporting the long-term health of their university and the environment. Some of these steps may be as simple as taking a cold shower or removing a power strip from a room, but getting a large portion of the student body to sign on can create an impactful aggregate effect.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Investing in high-quality energy efficient appliances helps to minimize the amount of utilities consumed over the long run while providing the same services to users. For bathrooms, make sure to outfit showers, sinks and toilets with water-saving features. For dorm rooms and classrooms, make sure that all lighting, thermostats, and insulation are installed with energy saving technology. Amenities — such as onsite laundry facilities for students, elevators and kitchen appliances — should all be optimized for frequent use while maximizing the energy it uses.

Employ Ambitious Building Standards

Long-term sustainability often involves making sweeping changes to how a university views its long-term assets. Educational campus planning involves planning the design of onsite buildings, which here would involve combining new constructions with an institution’s transition toward greener and more efficient energy consumption.

With public college budgets constantly on the chopping block, it is important to understand where money can be saved. With energy-saving initiatives, this outcome can be achieved while continuing to provide students and faculty with the same level of service.