College Sustainability Report Card: Who made the grade?

Got a child looking at colleges? Or, are you looking for yourself? More and more, sustainability efforts may be one of the criteria you and others use to choose a “good” school. For several years, the Sustainable Endowments Institute has made the search for that information a little easier with the publication of its College Sustainability Report Card. The 2009 edition was released last week, and colleges and universities around the country are bragging (or not) about their “grades.”

SEI’s report is a bit different than most: it takes into account typical activities associated with campus “greening” (energy use and efficiency, cafeteria composting, renewable energy use), and the investments of an institution’s endowment funds. The Report considers both where those investments are made, and the transparency of the investment process… elements which created some grumbling the first go-round.

Of course, everyone’s been grumbling about finances over the past year, so SEI Executive Director Mark Orlowski was impressed by many schools’ adherence to sustainability: “Surprising the skeptics, most schools we surveyed did not let financial reversals undermine their green commitments… New financial realities encouraged saving money by adopting environmentally friendly innovations.”

Among the schools who made high grades were Arizona State University, Oberlin College, and the University of Pennsylvania. The online presentation of the data is very interactive, so you can not only find out where a school stands, but even compare it to others.

Happy (or upset) with your school’s grade? Take one for the team… let us know why below.