Between students, faculty, and staff, there are numerous sustainability projects happening at WPI. Our institution attempts to set the bar high with cleaner campus facilities, academic emphasis on appropriate technology, research on all levels in energy and sustainability solutions, and community participation and stewardship.

Academics and Research

Curriculum

As a technical institution, WPI is responsible for educating future scientists and engineers to become leaders in their workplaces and communities. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) uses the following definitions to recognize sustainability in the curriculum:

  • Sustainability-Focused courses place a strong emphasis on questions of sustainability connected to many or all aspects of the course curriculum.
  • Sustainability-Related courses incorporate smaller aspects into the course work or simply focus on one sustainability principle.

WPI submits sustainability course data to be evaluated by the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating Survey (STARS) - viewable here - which is used each year by the Princeton Review Green Colleges survey and Sierra Club Cool Schools survey. For the 2015-2016 school year, WPI offered 149 courses involving sustainability and that number is growing. 

Sustainability is integrated into every aspect of our lives. Whether you are designing a more wind-resistent airplane foil, creating a flexible prosthetic for an amputee patient, or analyzing grey water applications, you will need to know about sustainable materials and practices. Not only will the preservation of better livelihoods play a part in your workplace, but it will be an important part of your life.

Sustainability Policies

Our departments take a unique approach to sustainability in their respective activities. See individual policies here:

IT Services

CREATING SUSTAINABLE BONDS THROUGH RESEARCH

Recovery of material resources research is recognized by the Audubon Society for encouraging cooperation between engineers and environmentalists. 

 

WPI Projects and Community Engagement

Community engagement is a critical part of our undergraduate education.  Faculty and students have the opportunity to engage in community research projects through WPI's various project center experiences. Through the Global Projects Program, WPI students are working on sustainability issues at over 40 project centers on 6 continents every year. The program offers students a real-world opportunity to solve problems between technology and society. The President's IQP Awards highlight five outstanding projects annually, all of which improve some aspect of sustainability. 

WPI is also involved in Sustainability though different departments. This includes Sustainability in the School of Business. See their 2015 PRME Report (PDF, 4.81MB), which details many of the school's sustainable practices in the context of responsible management education.

WPI Incorporates project work into the learning process in a number of ways ways. Even in their first year, students can participate in a Great Problems Seminar, which concludes with a seven-week assignment by which students create and present a solution to a significant world problem. In addition, all students will take part in an Interactive Qualifying Project (often completed abroad) and a senior-year Major Qualifying Project.

CREATING SUSTAINABLE JOBS IN NAMIBIA

Recycling by Bicycle: A Green Alternative to Expand Recycling and Create Jobs in Windhoek  

A study of recycling collection by bicycle shows the potential for reducing the associated costs of recyclable collection while simultaneously creating jobs for informal waste collectors in Windhoek, Namibia. WPI students designed a recycling collection cart and conducted trials which determined the feasibility and benefits of the recycling by bicycle program.

BUILDING WATER MANAGEMENT IN THAILAND

Development and Initiation of Sustainable Wastewater Management in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand 

Thanks to the work of WPI students and Nakhon Si Thammarat Community members, the Population and Community Development Association of Thailand has the tools to carry on a wastewater management awareness program in schools in Tha Phae. 

Student Action 

Students have been making an impact on sustainability on our campus for many years. From the implementation of the school's first recycling program in 1990 to the 4D modeling of the school's own Faraday Residence Hall in 2013, students are responsible for lasting efforts on campus. Below are some examples of how students are creating a more sustainable campus and providing passionate groups of peers to connect with. 

REDUCING SINGLE-USE WASTE

Students at the Rubin Campus Center advocate for waste reduction in an effort started by Kayleah Griffen, a member of the Office of Sustainability. Read more on the program!

Also see our annual waste audits conducted by the green team: 2014, 2016

PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION

In partnership with the Institute for Energy and Sustainability of Worcester, WPI's Green Team hosts annual car shows featuring electric and fuel efficient cars. Students and faculty as well as Worcester residents can admire and even test drive some of the most cutting edge transportation of today.

Waste & Recycling 

Program

The WPI recycling program handles paper, cardboard, plastics #1-#7 (nearly all), glass, batteries, used electronics and components, lights, ballasts, books, and surplus (bulky items like furniture). For an easy reference guide to the  single stream program see this WPI Single Stream Recycling Guidelines (PDF) file. For off-campus waste information, see the Waste Management Recycling Guide and mythbusting fact sheet (PDF). E-waste bins for electronics are present in most academic buildings, ask where at the main office.

 Contact WPI Department of Facilities, +1-508-831-5500 If you have any questions or concerns about the disposal of any other materials.

If you see a place that needs recycling bins, please contact green@wpi.edu with your suggestion.

Recyclemania

Recyclemania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to provide waste reduction activities to their campus communities.  Over a 10-week period from January to March, schools report recycling and trash data that are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or has the highest recycling rate. In 2015 WPI ranked below average on recycling rates and waste generated. As other institutions increase their recycling efforts, WPI has appointed the Sustainability Advisory Committee, Eco-reps, and the Student Green Team to help monitor and increase recycling rates through programs such as the Annual Waste Audit.

Operations (Includes info on Buildings & Grounds and Transportation Strategies)

Buildings & Grounds

In February 2007, WPI's Board of Trustees passed a resolution that all new buildings be designed to meet LEED certification. The WPI campus has four LEED buildings on campus:

Bartlett Center, 2006, LEED Certified
 

East Hall, 2008, LEED Gold
  

Recreation Center, 2012, LEED Gold


Faraday Hall, 2013, LEED Silver

WPI is committed to being a campus that incorporates the values of sustainable design in all aspects of site and building design, construction, maintenance, and operation procedures. Buildings on the WPI campus serve several needs of the community, and by adopting a high performance, minimal impact approach, the University can fulfill its objective of becoming a sustainability leader.

LEED buildings feature an integrated framework of design, construction, and operational practices that reflect the environmental, economic, and social impacts of buildings. Efficient use of energy, water and waste, as well as responsible use of construction materials and waste are all part of the commitment. 

What is LEED®?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Developed by the US Green Building Council, USGBC, LEED addresses all building types, emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies, and promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality. LEED is a practical rating tool for green building design and construction that provides immediate and measurable results for building owners and occupants.

LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings' performance.

Grounds Management

WPI's grounds keeping is working toward providing a safe, attractive, and more sustainable outdoor environment throughout campus. The University will focus on landscaping, litter control, and integrated pest management in order to accomplish these goals and implement the following practices:

  • Collecting litter on a daily basis. 

  • Emptying trash and recycling receptacles 2-3 times a week. 

  • Undertaking pest management when disease or insects are inflicting noticeable damage on plants or trees. Preventive measures are undertaken on species more susceptible to damage. 

  • Minimal use of fertilizers and the incorporation of organic products when possible. 

  • Reducing the number of annual plantings in favor of perennial plant material. 

  • Performing most weeding by hand and relying on spraying by a licensed applicator in limited instances of herbicide application for weed control. 

  • Composting/recycling all landscape debris. 

  • Auditing irrigation systems and practices to identify opportunities for water savings.

Getting Around Worcester

Public Transportation

Worcester is a great place to exercise public transportation. Our city has commuter train access to Boston, and from there the entire east coast. Within the city, WPI reduces carbon emissions by giving its students great alternatives to personal transportation:

WHY GO ALONE?

As a part of minimizing transportation fuel use, manufacturing, and materials use, carpooling is a great step toward eliminating car culture. WPI has partnered with Carpool World, a free organizing utility that helps the community organize and share their transportation. Find carpooling buddies for your daily commute or travel to and from campus. Please note that this site is available to WPI community members only. Check out rides at Carpool World...

 

Zipcars at WPI

In August 2008, WPI announced a partnership with Zipcar-- the world's largest provider of cars on demand by the hour or day. This new partnership allowed WPI to provide Zipcars to WPI faculty, staff, and students as an environmentally friendly alternative to keeping a car on campus. "At WPI, we are aware of the impact our students' transportation choices have on our campus, the Worcester community, and the environment as a whole," said Janet Begin Richardson, WPI's vice president for student affairs and campus life. "By partnering with Zipcar, we have one more tool in our kit to encourage students to leave their personally owned vehicles at home during the school year, while teaching them to make sustainable transportation choices that we hope will extend beyond their college years."

Five self-service Zipcars –three Fords in the Parking Garage and two Toyota Pruis at Gateway Park– are now available for use any time of the day. The car is available to all staff and students aged 18 and older. Zipcar was selected as WPI's car sharing partner based on its superior technology and operations, membership experience, and track record of providing peer universities with a proven, cost effective, and environmentally friendly transportation solution.

WPI'S ZIP CARS

Zipcars make it easy to get around without breaking the bank. With many fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles, these cars help students reduce their footprint on campus. 

 

Electric Charge Stations

For those eco-conscious electric car owners on campus, WPI offers two electric charge stations with two ports each at the Parking Garage and behind Goddard Hall. By providing more than 1,600 charge-ups these stations have saved nearly 5,000kg of greenhouse gas emissions and 1,500 gallons of gasoline. The stations also provide an incentive to go electric for those who drive a car to campus and would like to be more sustainable citizens. 

Community Brown Bag Lunch Discussions

This year features the first series of brown bag lunch discussions in which students, faculty, and staff gather and discuss a significant topic in sustainability. Participants bring their lunch and help themselves to refreshments and dessert while engaging in important world issues. This program has been especially successful since it presents community members with the opportunity to learn from each other and provide input, a style of learning that is not always present in lecture-style events. Check out our calendar to learn more about upcoming events!