USAID/ASHA investments advance EARTH’s environmental sustainability

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: August 23rd, 2019

For 15 years, EARTH University has been part of Bandera Azul Ecológica – a program that awards the sustainability initiatives of organizations throughout Costa Rica.

This year, we were recognized in six categories – more than any other university in the nation.

– Protected Natural Spaces
– Community Health
– Climate-Neutral Community
– Communities
– Climate Change
– Sustainable Homes 

folded flag on top of table

Bandera Azul Ecológica awards

“Receiving and retaining the Bandera Azul Ecológica awards represent a challenge year after year for all the members of the EARTH community. Involving students, staff, professors and residents has become a fundamental role for the Institution,” says Manrique Arguedas, coordinator of EARTH’s Environmental Action Unit. “Additionally, it makes the support our donors give – to have sustainable infrastructure on our campuses – go even further.”

Thanks to a series of contributions from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we have executed many meaningful new builds, repairs and updates to boost resource efficiency and sustainability on our two campuses.

“ASHA’s support for sustainable infrastructure has been very specific and meaningful,” Arguedas says. “Without a doubt, the collaboration has facilitated the results we have been able to achieve.”

Among the many contributions that ASHA has made to EARTH, a few stand out:

  • Energy saving: replacing old air conditioners with more efficient units; installing solar-powered water heaters; adding skylights for increased natural light; changing to LED lightbulbs.
  • Water efficiency: installing low-flow sinks and toilets; developing rainwater-catch and graywater-reuse systems.
  • Waste treatment and alternative-energy generation: constructing biodigesters to treat residential wastewater and utilize the methane byproduct as energy to operate the cafeteria’s stoves; installing solar panels.
  • Repaving: resurfacing campus roads to decrease vehicular fuel consumption.
building with solar panels on the roof

Solar panels at La Flor campus

Aditionally, with ASHA’s support, EARTH has planned the upcoming construction of three high-efficiency dormitory buildings. For their design, they will be the cornerstone of our 2020 bid to win in a seventh category of Bandera Azul Ecológica: Sustainable Construction.

The investments and support of partner institutions – such as USAID/ASHA – enable EARTH to offer improved living and learning spaces for our student body and the community at large.