College Sustainability Report Card 2008


Colleges and universities are taking the task of going green seriously, according to the newly released College Sustainability Report Card 2008. The report, compiled by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, showed that more than two out of three schools showed improved performance over last year.

Still, as with last year, nobody aced it, with Harvard, Dartmouth, University of Washington, Middlebury, Carleton, and University of Vermont each receiving an A-; star stickers all around! The Juilliard School, Howard University, Regent University, and Samford University yielded overall "F" grades, followed by 21 schools carrying a grade of "D-" Ouch. Time to report to the college sustainability principal's office.

"Colleges are rising to the sustainability challenge, but there remains much room for innovation," said Mark Orlowski, Executive Director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. "Many schools are missing opportunities to 'connect the dots,' and bring leadership on the endowment side into alignment with existing campus sustainability efforts." Hit the jump for more numbers breakdown, download the 2008 report here [PDF] or download the executive summary here [PDF]. ::College Sustainability Report Card 2008By the numbers:

-Nearly 45 percent of colleges committing to fight climate change through cutting carbon emissions. High-performance green building standards guide new construction at 59 percent of schools, while 42 percent are using hybrid or electric vehicles in transportation fleets. Notably, 37 percent of schools purchase renewable energy and 30 percent produce their own wind or solar energy. A substantial 70 percent buy food from local farms and 64 percent serve fair trade coffee.

-The categories with the lowest overall grades were Shareholder Engagement with 66 percent "Fs" and Endowment Transparency with 58 percent "Fs." In contrast, failing grades averaged only 10 percent across the five campus categories of Administration, Climate Change & Energy, Food & Recycling, Green Building, and Transportation.

-The cumulative grade distribution for the 200 schools was "A," 3 percent; "B," 28 percent; "C," 42 percent; "D," 25 percent; and "F," 2 percent. Grades were determined by reviewing publicly available information, conducting surveys of appropriate school officials, and then assessing performance across 39 indicators in eight main categories.

-Carleton College, Northeastern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Southern California and University of Virginia demonstrated the greatest improvements — as much as one and a half grades.

-Twenty-five schools achieved Campus Sustainability Leader status by scoring high marks in all five campus categories (at least an "A-" average).

-Only Carleton, Dartmouth and Williams were recognized as Endowment Sustainability Leaders, with an "A-" or better across the three endowment categories.

-Schools performed best in the Food & Recycling category, with 29 percent earning "As."

-More than one-third of schools have full-time sustainability staff, and more than two-thirds have a Web site dedicated to campus sustainability.

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