Credit: Stephanie Orndorff
Credit: Stephanie Orndorff
Credit: Stephanie Orndorff

Lane placed 45th on a list of the top 50 colleges and universities in the country committed to saving the planet.

The College Database, an organization that intends to inform students about colleges based on a variety criteria, recognized Lane in September for its energy management and renewable energy degree programs.

Despite colleges across the country touting the prestige of a ranking from the College Database, little is actually known about the website. Its methodology page is vague and does not clarify whether or not they used algorithms or qualitative methods to determine their ranking.

There are only two visible employees, Wes Ricketts, the College Database’s vice president, and Douglas A. Jones. Neither could be reached for comment.

A search of the IRS database for nonprofits named College Database showed nothing.

Lane is the only community college listed. The rest of the list consist of major universities such as Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Duke University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“These 50 colleges and universities not only host students in the lecture hall, they put them to work in research laboratories where scholars practice real-time, ecological heroism,” according to The College Database, which posted the list to its website, onlinecollegesdatabase.org.

According to the list, potential students can “start changing the world house-by-house, business-by-business, community-by-community” at Lane.

“Tons of colleges have environmental science courses and programs,” Ricketts said. “Those on our list stand out not only for unique concentration and scope, but also for going beyond the classroom, turning lessons learned into long-term, life-changing results.”

The College Database did a rigorous search, combing through thousands of post-secondary programs, selecting colleges with both a wide variety of programs and those with one or two that really shine, as is the case with Lane.

“Students enrolled in Lane’s energy management and renewable-energy programs can know that they are attending one of the best schools in the country for training in these areas,” Lane sustainability coordinator Jennifer Hayward said.

Although The College Database only recognized the energy management and renewable-energy programs, Lane offers degrees in water conservation, building controls and sustainability coordination.

In 2008, Lane was the recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Sustainability Infusion Project.

“The 2008 EPA grant allowed Lane to develop and provided training to instructors across Lane’s curriculum in sustainability so that they could incorporate sustainability concepts into their courses,” Hayward said. “Instructors from disciplines such as speech, psychology, health, math and business participated in these trainings.”

More than 90 percent of the 100-plus students polled after the trainings indicated an increased understanding of sustainable practices and have made life changes including recycling and reducing energy consumption.

According to Lane’s website, the college implements numerous sustainable practices throughout its main and downtown campuses: low-flush toilets, motion-detecting lights and energy-efficient architecture. The Center Building cafeteria now uses entirely compostable or reusable utensils, plates, cups and to-go containers.

The new downtown building has a green roof, which slows and purifies water that funnels into two 10,000-gallon containers used to flush the toilets in the downtown campus.

“At Lane Community College, you can actually experience the operational side of this too, so when … we put together systems for our staff we also think about how our students are going to interact with that,” Lane energy analyst Anna Scott said. “A great place to visit that is the recycling education center over in Building 10.

Lane’s solar-powered car-charging station provides energy for students’ cars as well as the college’s fleet of electric service vehicles.Photo: Stephanie Orndorff

Lane’s solar-powered car-charging station provides energy for students’ cars as well as the college’s fleet of electric service vehicles.
Photo: Stephanie Orndorff
An electric car charges in one of Lot B’s 18 power stations.Photo: Stephanie Orndorff

An electric car charges in one of Lot B’s 18 power stations.
Photo: Stephanie Orndorff