Nov 022010
 
Authors: Keeley Blakley

CSU is raising the grade when it comes to sustainability on campus.

The College Sustainability Report Card 2011 report gave CSU a “B ” overall, tying with CU-Boulder. Last year, CSU received a “C .”

Annually conducted by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors special project, the Sustainable Endowment Institute, the Report Card collected data from more than 300 colleges and universities in nine categories related to sustainability.

These include administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.

Student involvement rose from a “C” last year to a “B” in 2010, based on the Green Warrior program and a Student Sustainability Center run by students. The school also has two paid interns that work on campus sustainability.

The Student Sustainability Center started about a year ago and works to “empower students to advance sustainability principles and practices at CSU and beyond,” said Allison Kotewicz, assistant director of the Student Sustainability Center and a sophomore at CSU.

CSU made major strides in the endowment transparency category, rising from an F on last year’s report to an A this year.

The Colorado State University Foundation, a not-for-profit, 501©3 manages the university’s endowments and has worked hard to make those records more available, said CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander.

While the school appreciates the recognition for its green efforts, CSU does not base its sustainability efforts on the results of the survey, Bohlander said. The school bases it decisions on what is best for the students and campus.

In the transportation category, CSU received a “B” grade. More than 60 percent of students get to school in an environmentally preferable way, meaning biking, walking, carpooling or taking public transit. School employees lag behind with fewer than 40 percent using environmentally friendly transportation methods.

Kotewicz said there is room for improvement in areas she was surprised did not bring CSU’s overall grade down to a “C,” including sustainability efforts in the administration and integration of sustainability in academics.

“Our lack of integration of sustainability at a university-wide level, such as an Office of Sustainability or a University Sustainability Coordinator, is disconcerting, especially for a school that prides itself on being so green,” Kotewicz said. “The potential for CSU to be an A school is there, but it’s still going to take a lot of work for us to get there.”

Late last month, CSU posted an advertisement on http://jobs.colostate.edu for a sustainability coordinator who would oversee sustainability initiatives within Housing and Dining Services. This individual would oversee sustainability initiatives with HDS and in collaboration with departments across CSU.

CSU has received an A grade in the food and recycling category since 2009. Housing and Dining Services spends 34 percent of its $5,371,023 food budget on local products and 24 percent on organic products.

For shareholder involvement, CSU got a D grade that Bohlander said does not accurately represent the university. Bohlander said this part of the survey does not apply to the way CSU handles investments and that the school is looking for a way to better communicate that.

However, the survey only captures pieces of CSU’s efforts, Bohlander said. It does not capture the real world impacts of what CSU is doing.

For example, CSU is helping third-world countries improve their sustainability through companies like Envirofit, a spin-off of the Engines and Energy Conservation Laboratory at CSU. Envirofit distributes clean-burning, $40 cookstoves in India, Nepal and Nicaragua.

Staff writer Keeley Blakley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The report card

CSU’s green grade from The College Sustainability Report Card 2011:

  • 2011 Overall: B
  • 2010 Overall: C

CU-Boulder, University of Northern Colorado 2011 Overall: B

Campus using environmentally preferable transportation:

  • Students: 61 percent
  • Employees: 37 percent
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