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'Report Card' rates ASU a leader in sustainability


October 07, 2009

Arizona State University is topping the charts for its efforts in sustainability. ASU earned high marks from the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card 2010, with an overall grade of A-.

The university received A's in administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement and transportation. It received a B in endowment transparency and a C in investment priorities.

ASU was listed as an “overall college sustainability leader,” making it one of only 26 universities to earn that distinction, by scoring an average of an A- or better across all categories. ASU was also among 80 schools to be named "campus sustainability leaders" for their high marks in the six campus-specific categories.

Among Pac-10 schools, only ASU, Stanford and the University of Washington were awarded the highest grade of A-. ASU's score this year is an improvement over a B+ in 2009 and a B- in 2008, ASU's first year of participation.

“This is an accomplishment that recognizes both the university’s vision and breadth of effort to reach that vision," says university sustainability operations officer Ray Jensen. "Nevertheless, we are aware there is still much to do and will continue to use honors such as the College Sustainability Report Card as a springboard to continue moving toward our goals.”

The Report Card notes several of ASU’s outstanding administrative efforts, including President Michael Crow's leadership in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment; the on-campus leadership of the Global Institute of Sustainability; and the university's green purchasing policy.

Highlighted climate change and energy efforts include ASU’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2025 and solar installations of 1.7 megawatts with planned expansion to 20 megawatts by 2011. The report recognizes ASU's green building mandate that all new ASU buildings must meet at least LEED Silver standards.

Sustainability-related student events and services, as well as the new sustainable living community at Barrett, The Honors College, earned ASU an A in the student involvement category. High marks also went to transportation efforts such as the university-subsidized U-Pass, the bicycle co-op, and a vehicle fleet that includes an increasing number of electric and biodiesel-fueled vehicles.

The College Sustainability Report Card covers the colleges and universities with the 300 largest endowments in the United States and Canada, as well as 32 additional schools that applied for inclusion. It is the only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

The GreenReportCard.org Web site and the College Sustainability Report Card are both initiatives of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The Institute is a nonprofit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. TheGreenReportCard.org allows universal access to sustainability data from higher-education institutions.

“Building a sustainable campus effectively requires a holistic approach," says Bonny Bentzin, director of university sustainability practices. "For example, when you start a recycling program, you must also assess your trash program. Sustainability is about taking a long-term view and then putting efficient business practices in place. This is our approach at ASU."