How Green Is Your College?

campus.jpg Last week, the Sustainable Endowments Institute released its 2009 Green Report Card. As GreenBiz reports, it compiles the green and not-so-green aspects of 300 colleges and universities through the United States and Canada. The Report Card was designed to identify those schools that are leading by example through their commitment to sustainability initiatives on campus.
Schools were graded across categories including administration engagement, green building, food and recycling programs, transportation, and climate change policy. While no school earned an outright 4.0, there were many with A- grades that received the distinction of Campus Sustainability Leader by excelling in at least three of the categories listed above.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute is a project by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to assess the 300 universities in the US and Canada with the largest endowments. This represents more than $380 billion in endowment assets, or more than 90 percent of all university endowments.
As energy and transportation costs rise, student activism increases, and awareness grows around the effects of climate change, “Many [schools] are taking pride in greener campuses and sustainability-savvy investments,” says Mark Orlowski, Executive Director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. “We had 290 of 300 schools respond to at least one of the three Report Card surveys.”
Some key findings and trends are:

– Two out of three schools (66%) evaluated in both years improved their overall grade between 2008 and 2009.
– Increasing use of local food is helping to drive significant grade improvement. The number of schools reporting that they buy at least some food from local farms/producers rose from 70% to 91%.
– Alternative-fuel vehicles, as well as car-sharing and bicycle-sharing programs, are becoming more prevalent. The percentage of schools whose vehicle fleets include hybrid, electric, or biodiesel vehicles increased from 42% to 74%.
– More than one-third of schools earned an overall grade of “B-“or better (38%, or 114 schools).
– Schools are weakest in Shareholder Engagement and Endowment Transparency categories.
43 indicators were used to assess the grades of the schools, including publicly available information and student surveys administered across the categories above. To simplify grading, schools earned letter grades across nine categories based upon number scores they received across the 43 indicators. For a complete breakdown of the methodology, click here.
The top-scoring 15 schools from 2009 are:

Oberlin College; Oberlin, OH
University of New Hampshire; Durham, NH
University of British Columbia; Vancouver, BC
Columbia University; New York, NY
Dickinson College; Carlisle, PA
Harvard University; Cambridge, MA
Middlebury College; Middlebury, VT
University of Washington; Seattle, WA
Brown University; Providence, RI
Carleton College; Northfield, MN
University of Colorado; Boulder, CO
Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH
University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA
Stanford University; Stanford, CA
University of Vermont; Burlington, VT
This humble writer was excited to see his alma mater, UC Berkeley, receive an overall B rating, excelling with A’s in several categories. He is, however, slightly disappointed that his cross-Bay rival scored higher…
To check out the full report card, click here.

Ashwin is an Associate Editor of Triple Pundit. He recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Argentina, where he wholeheartedly missed the Pacific Ocean. He is a freelance editor and media and marketing consultant.After a brief stint working in the wine world, when not staring blankly at a computer screen, you'll find him working on Anand Confections or at 826 Valencia, where he has been a long-time volunteer.

One response

  1. All very very excellent and overdue. Colleges have finally noticed there is a problem on the planet, and have decided to show some leadership. Profound! That said, a sustainable campus is not the same as a “green” education. For a student, their concerns should lie with the strength of environmental and associated applied studies, interdisciplinary education, critical thinking skills, service-learning, field studies, the college ethos and mission. Students who are seeking this might want to look into Making A Difference Colleges (10th edition) which has been directing students to green and socially responsible colleges since 1992.

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