College Sustainability Report Card

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The Sustainable Endowments Institute released its College Sustainability Report Card, which grades 100 leading colleges by looking at campus greening practices and endowment policies.

The Cambridge-based research institute announced that the report’s grade of "A-", the highest cumulative sustainability grade, was received by Harvard University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and Williams College. In addition, 26 schools received an average grade of "A-" or better upon assessing only campus operations.

The College Sustainability Report Card takes into account 26 indicators, from green building initiatives to endowment investment policies, and uses an A to F letter grading system to evaluate performance. The study indicates that some leading schools are taking proactive steps on both campus and endowment sustainability initiatives. Other schools are shown to have a less consistent commitment.

While the report assigns grades for each indicator, the final cumulative sustainability grade distribution is as follows: Four schools earned level "A" grades, 22 earned level "B" grades, 54 earned level "C" grades, and 20 earned level "D" grades.

"This is the first time that colleges have been assessed on both campus and endowment sustainability policies," said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. “These schools have combined holdings of more than $258 billion–approximately 75 percent of all higher education endowment investments.”

The report presents easily accessible information regarding sustainability practices at the 100 institutions with the largest endowments in the United States and Canada, including the Ivy League and Big 10, as well as other top public and private colleges. "When it comes to sustainability," Orlowski said, "the key questions about these institutions are: How do sustainability factors shape the way they use their resources? How can schools learn from each other and adapt sustainability policies that work?"

“Linking campus sustainability efforts with endowment investment policies is important,” he added, “because it assures a unified sustainability vision for the institution.”

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