Submitted on January 15, 2010; last updated on January 15, 2010
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American Public University System (APUS) is a 100 percent online university with two offices in Charles Town, West Virginia and Manassas, Virginia. Faculty and students are not required to travel to either office location to attend or teach classes which helps keep the schools greenhouse gas emissions lower than at more traditional universities. The school has instituted an extensive recycling program at both locations and is in the process of developing a comprehensive carpooling initiative for employees. On the school's Charles Town campus, where the University occupies 14 buildings, the University is using two electric vehicles for transporting supplies and mail between offices. Additionally, the school is constructing a LEED Gold certified Academics Center in Charles Town which will serve as an example of green building in the community. The building will feature native landscaping and various environmentally-friendly elements that will help the school achieve its goal of LEED Gold certification. The University is also using environmentally-friendly cleaning products in both of its office locations. The school recently installed four environmentally-friendly parking surfaces made from porous, interlocking paving systems for employee use. To address the issue of paper consumption, the University has recently changed the default settings on all printers so that they now print in black and white and double-sided. The school is addressing electricity consumption by installing occupancy sensor lighting systems in its buildings. Beginning with the May 2010 ceremony, APUS will host an environmentally-friendlier commencement. For the May 2010 graduation, students will order regalia from Oak Hall's GreenWeaver line which provides commencement gowns made from recycled bottles. Also, whenever possible, the school is dedicated to purchasing ENERGYSTAR certified products for its buildings. The school does not anticipate purchasing any carbon offsets to help achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
APUS offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management. Within each program, students have four concentrations from which to choose. With courses like Environmental Toxicology; Environmental Policy, Regulation, and Law; and Environmental Management, APUS students within these programs gain a broad perspective on issues related to sustainability and environmental protection. APUS maintains an extensive online library which is accessible to all students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The University subscribes to Ebsco's GreenFile which has provided some 300,000 resources related to sustainability to the school's overall library collection. The school is developing a way to incorporate sustainability into the curriculums of all students. Since the school is 100 percent online, students are never required to travel to either of the school's locations for orientation. Because of this, the school has had a challenge in finding a way to provide sustainability to students who may not enter the BS and MS programs described below. Students have shown a great interest in sustainability and one student working toward an MS in Environmental Policy and Management has created a blog, sponsored by the school, to document the construction of the school's green Academics Center.
APUS is taking steps to expand community outreach related to the achievement of climate neutrality. The school's President and CEO has maintained a blog since May 2008 (http://www.wallyboston.com). He has frequently posted articles related to sustainability in higher education and issues of sustainability in general. The blog enjoys a strong readership and the President's articles related to issues of sustainability have generated frequent and lively discussions. The APUS Green Building Blog which is written by one of the school's graduate students also serves as an innovative mechanism for community outreach and public engagement. The school's Sustainability Committee is developing and will launch a blog by February 2010. This blog will deal specifically with issues of sustainability in higher education, sustainability and environmental protection in general, and will serve as a resource for other schools and businesses interested in incorporating sustainability into their practices. APUS is an active member of the Charles Town, West Virginia and Manassas, Virginia communities and the school has strong relationships with several of the local schools in both areas. The Sustainability Committee is developing creative ways to bring sustainability education to the students attending the local school systems. Additionally, upon the completion and occupation of the school's green building, APUS plans to host a Sustainability Summit. The school will invite relevant speakers to address the audience and intends that the Summit will provide a worthwhile forum for meaningful discussions related to sustainability and sustainable business practices.
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