Report card for green schools

Institutions around the country continue to develop ways to rank and evaluate green colleges and universities.

08/21/2009


At universities around the country, sustainability and energy efficiency has become a test all schools must start to study for. Courses in sustainability and energy are becoming new additions to curriculums and students and facility alike are taking an increased interest in how their school performs efficiency-wise. Measuring a school's efficiency and greenness is difficult due to the unique variables each school possesses. However, according to The New York Times several accredited institutions have begun ranking and evaluating schools across the country based on how green they are.
The Princeton Review recently came out with its Second Annual Green Ratings . In collaboration with the non-profit, environmental organization ecoAmerica , the Princeton Review measured 697 institutions on a scale of 60 to 99 based on data collected during 2008-2009. The criteria for rating each school covers three areas:
1. Whether the school's students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable.
2. How well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges.
3. The school's overall commitment to environmental issues.
The institutional survey for the rating included ten questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, building, transportation, academic plans focused on environmental degrees, and action plans concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions. 15 schools earned the highest possible score, or "Green Honors " including:
• Arizona State University at the Tempe campus
• Bates College (Lewiston, Me.)
• Binghamton University (Binghamton, N.Y.)
• College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Me.)
• Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
• Dickinson College (Carlisle, Penn.)
• Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
• Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta)
• Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass.)
• Middlebury College (Middlebury, Ve.)
• Northeastern University (Boston)
• University of California - (Berkeley, Calif.)
• University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.)
• University of Washington (Seattle)
• Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)
Another group, the Sustainable Endowment Institute's GreenReportCard.org , rates colleges on several different areas of green compliance, such as recycling, student involvement and green building. Its top grade for overall excellence, an A-, was earned by 15 schools, including:
• Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)
• University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.)
• University of British Columbia (Vancouver, B.C.)
• Columbia University (New York City)
• Dickinson College (Carlisle, Penn.)
• Harvard University (Cambridge, Ma.)
• Middlebury College (Middlebury, Ve.)
• University of Washington (Seattle)
• Brown University (Providence, R.I.)
• Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.)
• University of Colorado (Boulder, Colo.)
• Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.)
• University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
• Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
• University of Vermont (Burlington, Ve.)

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is also piloting a Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS ). The STARS program is designed to:
1. Provide a guide for advancing sustainability in all sectors of higher education.
2. Enable meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions by establishing a common standard of measurement for sustainability in higher education.
3. Create incentives for continual improvement toward sustainability.
4. Facilitate information sharing about higher education sustainability practices and performance.
5. Build a stronger, more diverse campus sustainability community.

 





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