A report card released this week that evaluated 300 college and university sustainability initiatives graded UR’s most recent green efforts at a B minus. This score, an improvement from last year’s grade, underlines significant University commitments to dining, recycling and investment in renewable energies.
The College of Sustainability Report Card 2009, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, administers an annual assessment that comparatively assesses performance by 43 indicators, divided into nine categories.
The Institute evaluates each school through independent research and by a survey that schools voluntarily respond to. Two out of every three schools improved their grades in the last year.
‘More schools are taking action on sustainability measures, in part reflecting increasing concern about climate change and the realities of rising oil and gas prices,” according to an assessment at http://www.greenreportcard.org.
Stronger performance in this year’s categories of food and recycling, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement boosted UR’s grade from a C minus last year.
The report cites specific University initiatives in dining. Dining Services purchases 17 percent of its food locally.
Other dining accomplishments highlighted in the report include the introduction of biodegradable materials and the recycling of waste.
A pilot program that was started this year sends compostable waste from designated areas, such as Connections Caf, to a far. More schools received As in the food category than in any other category, and UR ranked among this group.
The other category in which UR received an A was in its investment priorities. Factors within the category measured how efficiently schools manage investment to maintain a sustainable endowment.
UR, consistent with last year, earned a B in green building; this year, the survey commends the new University Health Services building in addition to Goergen Hall, both of which meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
The categories where UR remained stagnant cited older initiatives from previous years. For example, in transportation, the report repeated UR’s achievements in using hybrid vehicles and the student-run City Cycles program.
A new addition to the report card is a student involvement review, in which UR earned a C. According to the report, two in three schools offer sustainability internship and job opportunities for students. UR is one such school; there were three undergraduate internships for the summer of 2008.
UR responded to three separate surveys that Institute researchers used to assess the sustainability climate. UR was one of 296 other schools that responded to surveys administered by the Institute.
Though the surveys cite what the school has accomplished, as well as what it plans to undertake in the upcoming year, they do not explain why UR received lower grades in several of the remaining categories.
Instead, they offer a definition of the ideal in each category and a list of the schools it found that exceeded all the rest.
For the second year, UR scored lowest in climate change and energy.
In this category, UR received a D, falling below the report card’s average grade.
One factor considered in this category is whether or not the school has committed to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The intention of this pledge is to create a timeline to reduce the school’s gas emission. To date, UR President Joel Seligman is not a signatory of ACUPCC.
UR outperformed several other peer institutions on the sustainability survey, including Rochester Institute of Technology, Washington University in St. Louis and University of Chicago.
It performed on par with New York University and Brandeis University.
Leber is a member of the class of 2011.