"We've definitely seen there's an increase in awareness and participation at the Ecovillage, which is one part of a much broader campaign," Olson said, which includes building renovations, recycling, formal education and dormitory competitions promoting energy efficiency.
At Harvard University -- the ninth-largest university purchaser of green power in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency -- the Green Campus Initiative works to promote conservation both among students and within university facilities.
Harvard recycles about 45 percent of its waste, said Leith Sharp, director of the Green Campus Initiative, and the university has 13 building projects that integrate the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. The school also has a $6.5 million revolving loan fund for conservation projects that is repaid with the savings generated from previously funded projects.
"Students are very proactive about this issue," Sharp said. "On campuses all over the country, the students are really taking a lot of leadership to get universities to make commitments, particularly to greenhouse gas reduction."