Campus sustainability: Have you seen junior’s grades?

report_card.jpgI know I’ve already used that subtitle in a different context but I couldn’t resist.  Perhaps I’m getting into a rut . . . 

Anyway, the College Sustainability Report Card for 2008 has been released. This effort, led by the non-profit Sustainable Endowments Institute, ranks the 200 colleges and universities with the largest endowments.  The report shows that more than 2 in 3 schools have shown improved performance over the last year in implementing green practices and policies:

“High-performance green building standards guide construction at 59% of schools, while 42% are using hybrid or electric vehicles in transportation fleets. Notably, 37% of schools purchase renewable energy and 30 percent produce their onw wind or solar energy.  A substantial 70% buy food from local farms and 64% serve fair trade coffee.”

unm_solar.jpgAlas, my own institution, the College of William and Mary, earns only a D-, I’m sorry to say.  This puts us in the bottom 27th percentile among the group scored.  On the bright side, as one colleague noted, this means we have (almost) nowhere to go but up.  Our low grade is not for lack of student interest.  William and Mary’s Student Environmental Action Coalition has been on a roll in recent years, eliminating styrofoam from student dining halls, initiating composting, increasing the use of locally grown foods, finding ways to save energy, and a host of other good work.  In the broader community the Williamsburg Climate Action Network has recently been formed.  Perhaps all this activity in the grass roots — and the example of A students like Harvard and The University of Virginia — will eventually tickle the toes of the College’s administration and generate some forward progress.  

[Photo shows solar thermal collectors on the roof of the Mechanical Engineering Building on the University of New Mexico campus]

About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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3 Responses to Campus sustainability: Have you seen junior’s grades?

  1. this was a fascinating survey and high time…
    interesting that some schools i would think to score well (colby college in rural maine) in reality didn’t do so well…

    and alas, my undergrad alma mater (roger williams university–then roger williams college) didn’t even make the survey… but happy to see my grad school took home an A-

  2. kevin z says:

    Penn State came in at a B, not too bad but certainly room for improvement. I’m little miffed though at putting all the University of California campuses under one umbrella. My undergrad alma mater, UC-Davis, would certainly get an A as a stand alone for the survey’s criteria. Although, the UCal system as a whole got a B+, I wonder how the So-Cal universities would compare to Davis, SF and Berkeley and Santa Barbara.

  3. Tatiana says:

    very interesting survey… have you improved ypur performance since the time this info was posted?