Recognition continues for campus sustainability efforts
By Ethan Duer, Rider University
Originally Published: December 14, 2021
For the 12th consecutive year, Rider has been recognized as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges by the Princeton Review. Named in its Guide to Green Colleges: 2022 Edition, the University is one of only 420 institutions honored for its sustainability initiatives.
“We continually strive to be an evolving, eco-friendly leader in higher education,” says Sustainability Director Melissa Greenberg. “While we are always focused on the future, it means a lot to be recognized for our efforts. These accolades serve as additional motivation to achieve our ambitious goals.”
Environmentally responsible institutions are becoming increasingly important to students when making their college decision, the Princeton Review reports. In its 2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 78% of college applicants said that having information about a college's commitment to the environment would affect their decision to apply to or attend a school.
Rider became a charter signatory of the Carbon Commitment in 2007 (formerly the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment). Since its establishment in 2008, Rider’s Office of Sustainability has been the leader in the University’s green efforts. Each year, the office leads a number of large-scale sustainability initiatives and hosts events to inform and educate the University community about environmental issues, such as its annual Green Film Series, National Campus Sustainability Day and other on-campus events.
In February, Rider installed a SEED food waste digester in Daly Dining Hall. The machine can divert up to 500 pounds of food waste from going to landfills per day. The machine also contributes to Rider’s ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050; the University is more than a quarter of the way toward its goal.
Other successful sustainability initiatives include the creation of an on-campus power plant called Tri-gen, which generates about a quarter of all electricity used on campus, and a 740-kilowatt solar array outside the fence of Herb and Joan Young Field. In 2017, Rider installed its first electric vehicle charging stations on campus, a move that has been recognized by the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association for the University's leadership in promoting and providing quality commuter benefits to employees.
Rider also engages in a number of eco-friendly initiatives off-campus. This year, Rider, along with 74 other colleges and universities, sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to adopt a target of at least 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. This goal would help put the United States on a viable path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Rider also had its largest turnout of students ever at the Office of Sustainability’s annual “beach sweep” event. Approximately 140 students spent an October afternoon cleaning a beach in Belmar, N.J.
The Office of Sustainability has also collaborated with Rider’s Office of Service and Civic Engagement to create Rider B.E.S.T. (Broncs, Environmental, Social Justice, Team). The organization explores laws, regulations and policies that contribute to environmental racism in the local community, nationally and around the world.