October 28, 2010

Cornell Scores A- on Annual Green Report Card

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Cornell received an “A-” in the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s annual College Sustainability Report Card earlier this week, raising its grade from a “B” last year. The report rates the nation’s institutions of higher learning based on sustainability in “campus operations and endowment practices,” judging from surveys completed by student groups and administrations.Cornell’s high grade qualifies it as an “Overall College Sustainability Leader” along with 52 other schools, according to the Institute. Only 7 schools received the highest grade of “A.”Christina Copeland ’11, vice president of the Cornell Sustainability Hub, noted that the University’s improvement was due in large part to the administration actually filling out their survey this year, as well as more student groups participating. “I think there’s been a huge growth in environmental entrepreneurship,” Copeland said of the past year of sustainability on campus. Copeland cited Big Red Bikes as one movement on campus that is gaining tread. Big Red Bikes is a bike-sharing program that, Copeland says, could come to campus as soon as this spring. She also noted the advent of programs such as Greeks Go Green and Collegetown Art, Recycling and Trash as positive programs that inform and encourage the campus community of sustainable initiatives.the report noted Cornell’s policy of having all new buildings be LEED Silver certified and at least 30 percent more energy efficient than established standards. The “Student Involvement” section noted the more than 20 sustainability-focused groups on campus, as well as Ecology House residents organizing local-school outreach programs.The report card has been released since 2007, and according to Sustainable Endowments Institute, a large number of schools have shown considerable progress in bringing green policies to campus. There has been a 61-percent increase in universities with campus farms and gardens, for instance, and a 45-percent increase in universities with sustainability committees.According to the press release, there was a 90-percent response rate from schools asked to participate, with over 1,100 surveys being turned in. Two Ivy League schools made an “A”: Yale University and Brown University.Copeland said that the lowest grade for the University came in the area of “Shareholder Involvement.” She says this could be helped by establishing a revolving loan fund, which would pay for sustainable projects on campus. She cited Harvard’s $12 million fund as an example, and said that Dartmouth College is another peer institution with admirable sustainable policies.

Original Author: Brendan Doyle