November 8, 2010
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College ‘Report Card’ Rates Transit Option Highly
The Sustainable Endowment Institute has announced that more than half of the 322 schools evaluated in its recently released “College Sustainability Report Card 2011”—179, or 56 percent—achieved an overall grade of B or better. The report rates the U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities with the 300 largest endowments, as well as 22 additional schools that applied for inclusion.
The College Sustainability Report Card is an independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at North American colleges and universities. Rather than an academic focus on sustainability in research and teaching, this document examines colleges and universities, as institutions, through the lens of sustainability in nine main categories:
* climate change and energy;
* food and recycling;
* green building;
* student involvement;
* endowment transparency;
* investment priorities; and
* shareholder engagement.
This year’s study recognizes 52 schools as Overall College Sustainability Leaders for reaching an overall grade of A minus or better in all their campus operations and endowment practices. The number of Campus Sustainability Leaders—achieving an average grade of A minor across the six campus categories—totaled 120, while 23 schools qualify as Endowment Sustainability Leaders for achieving an average grade of A minus or better across all three endowment categories.
Here are a few representative examples of forward thinking on transportation issues among universities and their communities:
* Arizona State University-Tempe operates vehicles powered by electricity, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and hybrid engines in the campus motor fleet. Half of all students commute to campus via alternative transportation methods, and the university provides discounts on public transit and operates a bike-sharing program and repair service.
* Northeastern University in Boston offers faculty and staff the opportunity to purchase monthly transit passes with pretax dollars; students are eligible for semester transit pass discounts along with discounts on regional trains. Ride-matching, car sharing, and alternative fuel vehicles are also available on campus.
* Pomona College in Claremont, CA, coordinates carpools through a campus web site and offers cash incentives to encourage faculty and staff to use environmentally preferable modes of travel for their commute. More than half the vehicles in its fleet are 100 percent electric.
* At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, last year 88 percent of students and 50 percent of employees commuted to campus via environmentally preferable means. Students and employees have free access to local transit and an on-campus shuttle. Carpoolers have access to a ride-sharing website and preferential parking, and the university partners with a car-sharing program.
* Full-time students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond get free access to public transit; employees who carpool receive preferential parking; and the university sponsors a car-sharing program. More than half of students commute to campus via environmentally preferable means.
The text of the report is available online.