The Sustainability Endowment Institute has released its annual Sustainability Report Card, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges have improved across a wide range of indicators, resulting in B+ for their efforts – an improvement over last year’s grade of B-.
“We’ve been working across the board to improve our environmental sustainability efforts,” says Sustainability Coordinator James Landi ’08. “There has been particular concentration on our climate action plan, which stresses energy conservation. It is our road map, and has already made substantive change by pulling together practices and policies that are being put into action on campus.”
The Colleges were graded based on an assessment of 52 indicators, including green building initiatives and recycling programs, then given a letter grade from A to F on each aspect. One of the largest areas of improvement for HWS was in the area of green buildings, receiving an A in the 2011 report – a stark contrast to last year’s grade of D.
Large contributors to this improvement are the Colleges’ commitment to building new construction and major renovations to a LEED Silver Standard or higher and, also, existing buildings such as the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation and the Energy Star certified Finger Lakes Institute that are built to a high environmental standard. Food and recycling and student involvement were among other indicators that earned HWS A’s on this year’s report. The campus has also seen a 6 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over the past year.
“This report shows that we stand up well against other colleges on environmental sustainability,” remarks Landi. “It also helps us see where we are doing well, and where we can strive to do even better.”
The Democrat and Chronicle published an article about the Colleges’ improved rating. The full text of that article follows.
Democrat and Chronicle
University of Rochester, Hobart and William Smith colleges get ‘greener’
James Goodman • Staff writer• October 27, 2010
A new report card, which graded the environmental policies and practices of 319 colleges, shows that two local colleges are getting greener, mirroring a national trend.
The Green Report Card gave the University of Rochester an A- and Hobart and William Smith Colleges a B+ – big improvements over the previous year, when UR received a C+, and Hobart and William Smith, a B-.
Rochester Institute of Technology received the same grade as last year, a B, although it had lower marks in previous years.
Other local colleges were not included in the report card, which focuses on schools with large endowments.
“Really, when schools make these kinds of jumps, it’s an accumulation of large and small steps toward sustainability,” said Rob Foley, senior research fellow at the Sustainable Endowments Institute.
This is the fifth annual report card published by the institute, a nonprofit group based in Cambridge, Mass.
The reason, Foley said, that grades nationwide have gone up over the years is because colleges have realized that being environmentally responsible saves money.
Only seven of the colleges evaluated in the report received a grade of A: Brown University, Dickinson College, Oberlin College, Pomona College, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Yale University.
UR was among the 45 colleges that received an A- ; 178 colleges were in the B range; 70 in the C range and 18 in the D range. One school got a failing grade.
The overall grade given to a college was based on its scores in nine categories, ranging from sources of food and recycling to green building and investment priorities.
Last year, UR received Ds in climate change and energy, and green building. This year, UR got an A in these categories.
UR, according to the new report card, has made a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2005 and has a contract to purchase renewable energy credits that represent 24 percent of the campus’ electricity needs.
UR was also praised for having all major construction projects designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
Ronald Paprocki, UR’s senior vice president for administration and finance, said that an effort is being made to meet more than the minimal LEED standards and steps are being taken to make buildings more energy efficient.
“Economic and sustainability objectives overlap,” Paprocki said.
Hobart and William Smith showed a big improvement in green building, going from a D to an A.
“We made a priority of energy efficiencies and greenhouse gas mitigation in new buildings,” said Jamie Landi, sustainability coordinator at Hobart and William Smith.
Nabil Nasr, director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT, said that in addition to ensuring that buildings are energy efficient, RIT is in the process of hiring a sustainability coordinator.
“We practice what we preach,” Nasr said.