Green campuses will soon be the new norm.
The state environment department has begun a pilot project with 10 universities in Maharashtra to make their campuses sustainable, which means they must rely on resources generated within the campus.
Varsities will have to cut their carbon footprints and bring in green technology. For instance, they can recycle waste water, do rainwater harvesting and use solar heating, among other things.
“We want to keep it voluntary for campuses for the first three years, after which we will look at making it a norm,” said Valsa Nair Singh, environment secretary. “Universities have environment departments, which can take up sustainability and involve students.”
The proposal has got the state’s nod and the department is contacting varsities interested in volunteering for the project. The 550-acre Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) will help carry out the ambitious plan as it is itself in the process of attempting sustainability and has prepared an eco policy.
The environment department wants to replicate the same model across other campuses.
“Sustainability cannot be attained overnight. It is a process, which more importantly, involves changing the mindset of people and implementing eco-friendly policies,” said Professor Shyam Asolekar from IIT-B’s Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, who prepared the eco policy.
IIT-B will be one of the first educational institutes in India to attempt sustainability on such a large scale.
Universities are more than willing to make the switch. “It is the need of the day and we have the expertise of environment departments to guide us,” said R.K. Shevgaonkar, vice-chancellor, University of Pune.