Cambridge, MA /PRNewswire/ - Colleges across the United States and Canada are stepping up green practices and policies, with more than two out of three schools improving performance over the last year, according to the new College Sustainability Report Card 2008.
While schools are earning higher marks for green initiatives in campus operations, a majority of the wealthiest institutions continue to lag in applying sustainability practices to their endowment investments. 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 Report Card is the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments. Published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, it assesses the 200 public and private universities with the largest endowments, ranging from $230 million to nearly $35 billion.
The results clearly show a "green groundswell" on campuses, with nearly 45 percent of colleges committing to fight climate change through cutting carbon emissions. Green building standards guide new construction at 59 percent of schools, while 42 percent use hybrid or electric vehicles. Further, 37 percent purchase renewable energy and 30 percent produce their own wind or solar energy. A substantial 70 percent buy from local farms and 64 percent serve fair trade coffee.
"Colleges are rising to the sustainability challenge, but room for innovation remains," notes Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. "Many schools are missing opportunities to 'connect the dots,' and align leadership on the endowment side with existing campus sustainability efforts."
Grades were determined by reviewing publicly available information, surveying appropriate school officials, and then assessing performance across 39 indicators in eight categories.
The College Sustainability Report Card 2008 is the second such report from The Sustainable Endowments Institute, which is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and receives funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, among others.
The report is available at www.endowmentinstitute.org/sustainability.
Source: The Sustainable Endowments Institute (www.endowmentinstitute.org/sustainability)
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