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Back to green school

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2009
Anne L. Fischer, Senior Editor, anne.fischer@laurin.com

Renewable energy technologies are everywhere, but nowhere are they more prevalent than on college and university campuses around the globe. Sustainability is the name of the game when it comes to curriculum development, research funding, student initiatives and much more, including even the overall design of the campuses themselves.

The Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future supports sustainability in all of these areas and maintains a list of those who have signed the Talloires Declaration, a 10-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy into teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. More than 350 university presidents and chancellors in 40 countries have signed on to the program.

In this issue’s GreenLight section, we look at green endeavors at the college level across the globe. Perhaps the greatest display of photonics-related green activity is the Solar Decathlon, which pits 20 colleges and universities in a competition to build a home that is powered fully by solar energy.

Sustainable initiatives take other approaches on campuses as well. Industry/university partnerships are working to advance solar technology, examples of which are the Arizona State/Advent Solar partnership and a unique project in the Netherlands.

As campuses worldwide commit not only to teaching green but to being green, solar is springing up all over, with projects at Butte College in Oroville, Calif., and at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, both of which are leading by example.

In other cases, cutting-edge research on materials and production techniques is rapidly advancing solar technology and manufacturing, as is the case with a new approach to copper indium gallium selenide production at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This section just skims the surface of sustainability on campuses around the world. We look forward to bringing you more examples, and we welcome your examples of cases where the sciences offer real solutions to today’s environmental issues.


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