The George Washington University is at the forefront of sustainability on college campuses, earning 12th place in the Sierra Club’s list of most environmentally friendly schools. The University offers over 250 courses related to sustainability, and 40 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate sustainability programs. In Fall 2012, GW established a sustainability minor, allowing interested students to study environmental challenges and developments. Last year, Kathleen Merrigan, former U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary, was named the University’s first Executive Director of the Sustainability Institute, GW’s sustainability research center. Earlier this year, the University opened its first LEED “Platinum” Certified Building, the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and is committed to building a minimum of LEED “Silver” Certification on future projects, and recently announced its decision to attain half of its electricity from solar energy by 2015.
GW has been home to Planet Forward since 2008 when Frank Sesno (Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs) and the rest of the team began engaging students, faculty and staff on GW's campus and beyond. Students at GW are actively involved in sustainability efforts participating in everything from the “Eco-Challenge” in which residence halls compete annually to conserve energy and water to the GroW garden, a cooperative urban garden that is run by students and maintained by university volunteers. This engagement is expected to continue to grow with the new opportunities available through Planet Forward's campus consortium as students submit their stories, faculty continue to use Planet Forward for experiential learning in the classroom, and the staff continues to partner with Planet Forward to develop inspirational and effective programming.