Baylor Rises Up In College Sustainability Report Card

Oct. 28, 2010

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University earns highest-ever grade on sustainability initiatives on campus

Baylor University garnered its highest-ever grade in the new College Sustainability Report Card 2011, released Oct. 27 at GreenReportCard.org.

Baylor earned an overall grade of "B," a letter grade jump from last year's ranking. The annual report card is compiled by the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI), a Cambridge-based nonprofit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. The annual rankings provide detailed school profiles and grades for 322 colleges and universities, representing all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces.

Among the 14 Texas universities graded by SEI, Baylor is only a half-letter grade away from being one of the top sustainable campuses in the state. Only four Texas universities - University of Houston, Rice, Southwestern and the University of Texas at Austin - were graded slightly higher than Baylor, receiving a B+ for their sustainability initiatives.

Among Big 12 institutions, Baylor is the third-highest graded university in sustainability, trailing only Texas and the University of Colorado by a half-letter grade.

"The SEI Sustainability Report Card is a benchmark that helps Baylor measure its progress as a sustainable campus," said Pattie Orr, vice president for information technology and dean of University Libraries, who chairs Baylor's Sustainability Committee. "I congratulate the members of the committee for the leadership they have provided in advancing our institutional sustainability. Our employees, students and hundreds of volunteers helped Baylor achieve the outstanding SEI Sustainability Report Card grade of 'B,' the highest grade ever received by Baylor, and shows that our steady progress, good stewardship and hard work are paying off."

Methodology

Schools are graded based on research conducted on publicly available information and surveys sent to school officials and student groups, which gathered information about sustainability in campus operations, dining services, endowment investment practices and student activities. Each institution's performance was assessed in nine categories: Administration, Climate Change and Energy, Food and Recycling, Green Building, Transportation, Student Involvement, Endowment Transparency, Investment Priorities and Shareholder Engagement.

Baylor earned an "A" in the categories of Administration, Climate Change and Energy, Green Building and Investment Priorities, a "B" for Food and Recycling and Student Involvement, and a "C" in the categories of Transportation, Endowment Transparency and Shareholder Engagement.

"What makes this jump from last year's 'C' to a 'B' this year so significant for Baylor is that SEI does award 'plus' and 'minus' grades, and Baylor jumped an entire letter grade," said Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator for Baylor. "It is exciting and gratifying that the Sustainable Endowments Institute and other organizations continue to recognize the university's commitment to the integration of sustainable initiatives wherever possible on our campus. These programs contribute substantially to the improvement of the Baylor campus and have a positive impact on the Waco community."

Getterman said that Baylor has short- and long-term improvements plans in place for several areas, including transportation.

"For instance, our transportation grade is a 'C,' but our long-term campus plan calls for a number of overall sustainable improvements to our transportation operations," Getterman said.

Baylor initiatives recognized

Baylor was cited with the top grade in the Administration category for its formal sustainability policy, which was approved and implemented last spring, and the inclusion of sustainability components in the university's campus master plan, as well as established guidelines for green purchasing and temperature control.

In the area of Climate Change and Energy, Baylor was recognized for its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent from 2006 levels by 2011, its use of lighting sensors, LED lighting, and energy-efficient lighting on campus to lower energy costs, and its purchase of renewable energy credits for two years that represent 7 percent of the campus's electricity needs.

Under Green Building, the report card pointed out Baylor's commitment to LEED certification for all new buildings and its water management initiatives, such as the installation of low-flow faucets and showerheads, use of non-automated, weather-informed irrigation and innovative procedures to manage stormwater.

Baylor also received an "A" for its Investment Priorities, aiming to optimize investment returns and investing in renewable energy funds.

In the areas of Food and Recycling, Baylor was cited for purchasing local products, offering only fair-trade coffee and eggs from cage-free chickens, reducing waste through "trayless" dining, offering a reusable to-go container program and recycling traditional items and some electronics.

Baylor's Student Involvement also was recognized. The university was cited for providing recycling and energy conservation information during new student orientation, offering two sustainability internships to students each year, sponsoring three environmentally focused student groups (business, science and general student body) and marshalling students who volunteer at athletic events to raise environmental awareness.

Sustainable future

During the 2010-2011 academic year, Baylor Sustainability has set several goals, including substantially reducing the use of unrecyclable plastic foam products at athletics events and in campus dining facilities, composting organic materials from dining facilities and athletics department, working with Campus Kitchen to establish a community garden, providing more organic food options in Baylor residential dining facilities, implementing efficiencies in the university's IT infrastructure to conserve energy, utilizing more green cleaning products in housekeeping operations, planning strategies to a campus water conservation and improving assessment tools to allow for better management of energy resources.

Since the first edition four years ago, Report Card surveys show dramatic increases on 52 green indicators. For example, the percentages of schools that now have the following programs are:

    64% - Commitment to carbon emissions reduction (23% in 2006)
    70% - Campus farm or garden (9% in 2006)
    75% - Trayless dining (0% in 2006)
    79% - Green building policy (22% in 2006)
    95% - Sustainability committee (40% in 2006)

"The green groundswell on campus is evident in a wide variety of energy-saving initiatives, such as sourcing food from campus farms and reducing hot water use through trayless dining," said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, publisher of the Report Card.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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