New Green Rating Added to Princeton Report

NEW YORK — The Princeton Review recognized more than 10 U.S. colleges and universities in its Green Rating Honor Roll as part of the green rating introduced with its latest survey.

Of the 534 colleges polled in the institutional survey during the 2007-08 academic year, 11 received a perfect score on the survey, which ranked the schools on a scale of 60 to 99 using criteria that covered three main areas: whether campus life is healthy and sustainable, how well the school prepares students for living and working under environmental challenges and the level of the school’s commitment to environmental issues.

The Review worked with nonprofit environmental marketing agency ecoAmerica to develop survey questions, that addressed energy use, recycling, food, buildings, transportation, academic offerings and action plans and policies regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

East Coast schools represented the highest concentration of honor roll recipients. Honor roll campuses include:

Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. — ASU considers sustainability a cornerstone of its teaching, learning, research and business missions. The university’s newly established school of sustainability is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to the survey, and offers degree programs that develop practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges.
More than 60 school faculty members representing more than 40 disciplines facilitate undergraduate and graduate degree programs, along with professional certificates. As of 2007, incoming freshmen are required to take ASU 101, a course containing five modules, one of which focuses on sustainability.

Bates College, Lewiston, Maine — With almost one-third of its resources dedicated to the procurement of local, natural and organic food and a strong focus on alternative transportation options, Bates College offers faculty and students a plethora of sustainable choices.

Since last year, the college has opened two new major buildings built to LEED Silver standards — a student residence hall and a dining commons. In 2007, Bates became the first Maine institution to partner with Zipcar, providing two Toyota Priuses to students, faculty and staff for car sharing. Each Zipcar is expected to reduce the need for 14 cars on campus, the report states.

College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine — COA was established in 1972 to advance the understanding of the relationship between human beings and the environment. It has taken a leadership role in educating innovators to create a more sustainable, peaceful and just world, according to the survey. Considered net-zero for carbon emissions, the college has reduced and avoided all emissions it can, and the rest is offset. Hydropower is the sources of COAs electricity. New buildings and some old ones are heated using renewable wood pellets. A new residence hall on campus features composting toilets, triple-paned windows, metered showers, gray water pre-heats and construction designed to reduce the heating load.

Emory University, Atlanta — University officials articulated sustainability as a top priority for the school, resulting in a strategic plan and universitywide commitment to effect positive transformation in the world by developing a model for healthy living on campus that can be emulated globally, the survey states. Sustainable campus policies include building all new facilities to LEED standards, with an emphasis on energy and water conservation; integrating sustainability into the curriculum; promoting alternative transportation with a 100 percent alternatively fueled shuttle fleet; recycling; and providing local and sustainably grown food. 

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta — The Georgia Institute of Technology is actively pursuing green policies, practices and course offerings. Recently completed initiatives and future goals include:

  • 21 endowed chairs and 23 research centers that emphasize sustainability
  • institutional environmental sustainability programs that embrace green cleaning, solid waste recycling, drought-tolerant vegetation and storm water capture 
  • a sustainable food project intended to encourage environmentally responsible dining habits and the implementation of a green portal providing a central resource to teach and promote green behaviors, activities, initiatives and events within the university community
  • the goal that every student takes at least one of the more than 100 sustainability courses offered.

Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass. — The university’s undergraduate section and oldest school, Harvard College has the largest green campus organization in the world, consisting of 24 full-time professional staff members and 32 part-time student employees dedicated to greening the campus, the survey states. The school has committed to a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. 

Other college initiatives include a $12 million revolving green campus loan fund to provide interest-free loans to anyone at Harvard who has a green campus project with a payback of 10 years or fewer. Since its establishment in 2001, the loan program has lent more than $12 million to 180 projects focusing on lighting, HVAC, behavioral change, insulations and on-site renewable energy.

State University of New York at Binghamton — Almost 70 percent of Binghamton University’s 900-acre campus is in its natural state, according to the study. The core of this undeveloped land is known as the Nature Preserve, a 182-acre site that includes a 20-acre wetland and is used by the university as a teaching and learning tool and for research, ecology, arts, literature and outdoor recreation.

One of the university’s goals is to design, construct, operate and maintain all new buildings according to LEED standards. As of 2004, Binghamton has achieved LEED certification on two buildings and is in the application process for LEED Silver certification for a recently constructed building.

University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. — UNHs Office of Sustainability is the oldest endowed sustainability program in higher education in the U.S., the survey states. In January 2009, the university will launch EcoLine, a project designed to use landfill gas as the primary campus energy source. The project is expected to lower energy costs, provide energy security and reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions to an estimated 57 percent below 1990 levels.

The university is a land grant educational institution that has an organic diary farm and education/research center, in response to the need of farmers for scientific research to support organic dairy efforts.

University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore. — The university offers more than 200 sustainability-related courses. The law school’s environmental and natural resources program founded the nation’s first academic curriculum in public interest environmental law, and the business school also launched the Sustainable Supply Chain Management Center. UO’s student government spends 10 percent of its $10 million budget on sustainability programs each year.

This fall, the university will host the first sustainability conference for the state’s public universities. UO annually hosts two international student conferences on sustainability.

University of Washington, Seattle — A member of the Presidents Climate Commitment, the University of Washington pledged to develop climate-neutral practices and policies. Part of that commitment is requiring all new campus buildings to meet at least LEED Silver standards.

The university is also a founding member of the Seattle Climate partnership, which mandates the school must purchase 100 percent renewable power and practice energy conservation.

UW food services encourage the purchase of local and organic foods and are working toward a zero-waste goal by composting post-consumer waste and offering compostable dishware and to-go packaging.

Yale University, New Haven, Conn. — Yale University pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 43 percent below 1990 levels; so far, it has achieved a 17 percent reduction. To reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, the university is using solar, wind and geothermal energy produced on campus.

An on-campus co-generation power plant helps maximize the school’s energy efficiency. Plans are under way for construction of a second plant. Campus energy conservation measures include biofuels for vehicles, offering incentives to employees to live near campus or carpool, and setting thermostats higher in summer and lower in winter. One of the university’s newest sustainable buildings is its school of forestry and environmental studies.

The Green Ratings score was developed in response to a rising interest nationwide among students looking for colleges and universities that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices, according to officials with the Review.

Of the 10,300 college applicants and parents of applicants polled by the publication for its annual “College Hopes & Worries Survey,” 63 percent considered information about a college’s environmental policy and course offerings important. Nearly a quarter of that 63 percent stated such information could be a deciding factor whether to apply to or attend a school.

A resource area on the Princeton Review’s Web site is available to students and parents interested in learning more about the rating system and the benefits of attending a green college or university. Developed in consultation with ecoAmerica, the Web page offers sample questions about environmental programs for students to ask when visiting a college campus. It also provides links to news articles and links for organizations that work with universities to advance environmental sustainability.