Earning Praise for Sustainability

November 03, 2017

Ursinus has been named one of the top colleges on the Princeton Review’s Green Colleges list.

Colleges are selected based on the academic offerings, career opportunities, and sustainable policies, initiatives, and activities the campus offers. Each school was given a “Green Rating” score ranging from 60 to 99. Colleges that received a Green Rating over 80 were included in the rankings.

Kate Keppen ’05, Ursinus’s director of sustainability, says the recognition is a testament to the Ursinus community’s strong commitment to sustainability.

Keppen, who studied English and environmental studies at Ursinus before getting her master’s degree in environmental policy, says, “When we think about the word ‘sustainability,’ it is often tied to being environmentally friendly, but there is so much more to it than that.”

“In my opinion, to be truly sustainable, we need a healthy and thriving society, economy and natural environment. Those three items are not independent of each other, they are fundamentally linked and bound together,” she says.

“In my short time here, I have worked to ensure that my office considers all of those items in the same way,” Keppen says. “I bring this interdisciplinary approach to my office. I am so excited to be working with other partners on campus like UCARE, the Institute for Inclusion and Equity, the U-Imagine Center, and so many others, to help bring a balance to the Office of Sustainability.”

Keppen is also passionate about involving the local community in sustainable efforts. She has spent the last year working on ways to share Ursinus’s expertise with nearby groups.

“I was approached by an after school program that was interested in having a community plot out at the campus farm,” she says. “After speaking with the program director, we realized that there was synergy in what the program needed and what my office could provide that extends to more than just providing a community plot. We are still working on final details but it is coming along nicely.”

Students, faculty, staff and community members can all get involved with sustainability at Ursinus by participating in one or more of the many sustainable initiatives and activities offered on campus. Students can volunteer their time at the organic farm, join the sustainability mailing list, or even become a sustainability fellow.

Keppen also works closely alongside Facilities Services to make sure new buildings are up to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certifiable standards and with Dining Services to help prevent food waste, a major issue in the United States.

Day-to-day activities like committing to recycling, joining UC Bike Share, taking environmental studies courses, and encouraging friends and colleagues to do the same help to keep Ursinus “green,” even if it isn’t officially one of our school colors.

Those interested in Ursinus sustainability efforts should email —By Mary Lobo ’15