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Southwestern Gets Top Grade in Texas for Sustainability

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    The Sustainable Endowments Institute's latest sustainability report card praised Southwestern for its commitment to green buildings such as the new Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning.

University gets a B+ in national sustainability report

Southwestern is one of the most sustainable colleges in Texas, according to a new report issued by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a nonprofit group based in Cambridge, Mass., that seeks to advance energy efficiency, green building, recycling and endowment transparency on college campuses.

This year the institute analyzed indicators for 322 colleges and universities. The indicators fell into nine categories: Administration, Climate Change and Energy, Food and Recycling, Green Building, Transportation, Student Involvement, Endowment Transparency, Investment Priorities and Shareholder Engagement. The total scores of the nine equally weighted categories determined a school’s overall GPA on a 4.0 scale leading to the overall sustainability letter grade.

The highest rating given to a school in Texas was a B+. Southwestern and three other schools received this rating − Rice University, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. Only 52 schools in the country scored higher than a B+.

Southwestern received an “A” in the categories of Administration, Green Building and Investment Priorities. The writers of the report noted Southwestern’s commitment to sustainability through construction of LEED-certified buildings, a formal green purchasing policy, a reduction in building energy consumption since 2005, the purchase of wind power to meet its electricity needs, its conversion to trayless dining, and the addition of several compost bins in the residence areas, among other things. Southwestern’s full report can be viewed here here.

Since Southwestern was first ranked by the College Sustainability Report Card in 2008, the university’s grade has improved from a D+ to a B+, due largely to a concerted effort on the part of students, faculty and staff.

“This is great news,” said Laura Hobgood-Oster, a member of Southwestern’s sustainability committee. “It is an external affirmation of the hard work that the Southwestern community has been doing over the past five years to build environmental awareness into both our academic program and our operations.”

The Sustainable Endowments Institute is a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. For more on the College Sustainability report Card, visit www.greenreportcard.org.

For more on Southwestern’s sustainability efforts, visit www.southwestern.edu/sustainability.