zips-gameThe newly-formed University of Akron (UA) Student chapter of the GBDC may be the jumpstart UA needs to inject some true green into its sustainability  program.

Environmental Akron, an eco-friendly UA student organization has been around for a couple years, but it hasn’t been able to move the green barometer. Working with the Blue, Gold, & Green Committee (composed of UA administration and faculty), it has taken on some worthy environmental challenges including a formal on-campus recycling program.

But, according to The 2009 Green Report Card, recently published by the respected Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, when it comes to advancements in green and sustainability efforts for colleges, UA hit rock bottom, plunging from a D+ last year to a D- this year. It received flat out “Fs” in climate change & energy, food & recycling, green building, endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.

 Out of the 14 Ohio schools reported, only Oberlin College reached “A” status with an A-.  The only other Ohio school to perform as dismal as UA was Ohio Northern University in Ada. 

The Green Report Card calls itself  “the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments.” It assesses the 200 public and private universities with the largest endowments, ranging from $230 million to nearly $35 billion. (US News reported UA’s endowment at $52,973,840). UAs falling grade bucks the trend of two in three colleges that improved their performance on the annual College Sustainability Report Card this year.

There are so many reasons to raise the green grade, including assistance with recruitment.  Sixty-eight percent of 12,715 high school students applying to college and their parents, who were recently polled by the Princeton Review, said that they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment.7981027871_cc1[1]Here are some recommended action steps for UA college students to get the grade up from the Sustainable Endowments Institute :

  • Apply to the United Nations Foundation’s Climate Crews program to receive training on creating innovative sustainability initiatives.
  • Organize events to discuss various aspects of college sustainability.
  • Invite national sustainability leaders to speak on campus.
  • Attend relevant conferences 
  • Encourage the president to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment and/or Talloires Declaration.
  • Choose to reside in your school’s green dorm, if one exists. If not, ask your school to explore the possibility of creating a green dorm.

Sustainability experts say that if you are a school at the D- level, you need to be a bit more agressive.  Suggestions include  implementing a green purchasing policy, composting food service waste, serving farm-to-school meals and setting up a formal bicycle commuter program.  

The building boom on campus has obviously bypassed any significant  sustainable and green practices in new construction and rehabs. Incorporating such elements as greywater systems, rain gardens, green roofs, sustainable construction materials, passive HVAC into new construction and renovations need to be incorporated into new building designs.

200800[1]There’s no doubt that the recent UA green momentum emanating  from students to faculty to administrators together with University Park Alliance can work together to raise the grade. 

 

 

 

EXHIBIT A

UA’s Green Report Card from  C to F

Administration

The University of Akron’s Blue, Gold, and Green Committee is composed of faculty, staff, and students. It was formed in October 2006 to recommend ways to educate the community, increase recycling efforts, study water and energy use on campus, and review the use of renewable technologies and resources. The group has been instrumental in recent energy conservation campaigns and helped host campus-wide Earth Day events for the past three years.

Climate Change & Energy

The university regularly upgrades to high-efficiency equipment for various systems. Building temperatures are kept cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer to decrease energy usage, reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 300 tons per year. The university planted 2,800 trees throughout campus, absorbing 14 tons of carbon per year.

 Food & Recycling

The university runs a standard recycling program, accepting mixed paper, plastic, light metal, and printer cartridges. Increasing recycling is a stated goal of the Blue, Gold, and Green Initiative.

Green Building

 

New construction at the university has included some green building technology. Two new student housing facilities feature energy-saving equipment, recycled materials, and increased green space, which helps reduce heat islands. A new “smart” HVAC system in Guzetta Hall features motion sensing technology. Renovations at a campus cafe took advantage of natural light and cut electrical lighting use in half.

 Student Involvement

Members of the student organization Environmental Akron facilitated the university’s participation in RecycleMania 2009. The organization also worked with the Blue, Gold, and Green Initiative to host Earth Day 2009 events, including Lights Out Akron, a community-wide conservation awareness program.

 Transportation

The Roo Express Shuttle transports university community members to campus buildings in the downtown area, neighborhoods near campus, and from campus parking lots to campus buildings. The university, in partnership with the city of Akron, has launched an initiative in support of students using bicycles, and the University Park Cycle Shop, located in a campus residence hall, offers bike rentals.

 Endowment Transparency

The university has no known policy of disclosure of endowment holdings or its shareholder voting record.

 Investment Priorities

The university aims to optimize investment return and has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.

Shareholder Engagement

The university has not made any public statements about active ownership or a proxy voting policy.

EXHIBIT B

Oh, and by the way, here’s who UA is hanging with:

In bad company:  The other 13 D- flunkies

Brigham Young University  Provo, UT

College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO

Duquesne University  Pittsburgh, PA

Howard University  Washington, DC

Ohio Northern University Ada, OH

Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT

Seton Hall University  South Orange, NJ

University of South Alabama Mobile, AL

Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH

Virginia Military Institute  Lexington, VA

Wabash College  Crawfordsville, IN

Wesley College Dover, DE

Wichita State University  Wichita, KS

Advertisements