Baylor on the ‘Cool Schools’ List for Campus Sustainability Practices

  • Move in recycling
    Cardboard boxes are broken down and recycled by volunteers during Move-in Days, one of the sustainable efforts at Baylor. (Photo by Smith Getterman)
  • Committed to Sustainability
Sept. 12, 2017

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (Sept. 7, 2017) – Baylor University’s ongoing commitment to sustainability has been honored for the fourth time by SIERRA Magazine, which has named the University to its 2017 “Cool Schools” list.

Baylor is one of nine universities from Texas, along with Rice, University of Houston, Texas A&M, University of North Texas, University of Texas at Arlington, UT-Rio Grande Valley, Texas Tech University and UT-Dallas, and one of four Big 12 Conference schools, along with Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, among the 227 four-year colleges and universities honored for their campus sustainability practices.

To determine the rankings, SIERRA collaborates with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to use raw data from AASHE’s STARS Reporting Tool, which gives colleges and universities a method for tracking and assessing their sustainability programs. That data is then scored across 62 questions.

“For the third straight year, and fourth time in five years, we have the great honor of being named among other elite universities working to be better stewards of our resources as a part of the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools List,” said Smith Getterman, director of sustainability and special projects at Baylor. “This success is a testament to the ongoing collaborative efforts of the University community as we work towards our Sustainable 2020 goals and beyond.”

Over the past year, Baylor has continued to take a number of steps toward achieving the goals set forth in Sustainable 2020, a five-year plan announced in April 2015. The plan focuses on improving new levels of success in the stewardship of University resources in the areas of dining, waste, energy and water by 2020. Below are updates on these five-year goals:

Sustainable 2020 Goals

Dining: 20 percent locally sourced food in residence hall cafeterias

  • 2016 Update: Locally sourced food in residence hall cafeterias increased to 12 percent.

Waste: 30 percent diversion rate

  • 2016 Update: University diversion rate increased to 25.2 percent, from a 2010 FY baseline.

Energy: Reduce university greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020 from a 2010 FY baseline, including growth.

  • 2016 Update: Use of electric energy decreased by 13.1 percent, from a 2010 FY baseline.

Water: Reduce university wide water use 17 percent by 2020 from a 2010 FY baseline.

  • 2016 Update: University wide water use decreased by 21.5 percent overall, from a 2010 FY baseline.

Other sustainable highlights from the past year:

  • Baylor set a new record for recycling during Move-in days Aug. 16-17. Over a 48-hour period, volunteers collected 31,200 pounds (15.6 tons) of recyclable materials, compared to 25,038 pounds (12.5 tons) in 2016.
  • During the end-of-the-year Move Out, more than 2,500 pounds of goods were collected at South Russell Hall by Inite, a student-led nonprofit organization in the department of Baylor journalism, public relations and new media. The items, including furniture, linens and clothing, were then delivered to an orphanage in Camargo, Mexico.
  • The Sustainability Office and Sustainability Student Advisory Board partnered with the department of health, human performance and recreation in Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences to build 71 hygiene kits for the Salvation Army, which will be used in hurricane relief efforts.

SIERRA, which is published by the Sierra Club, says its annual Cool Schools ranking serve as a guide for prospective students, current students, administrators and alumni to compare colleges’ commitments to sustainability. It also serves to spur healthy competition among schools, raise environmental standards on campus and publicly reward the institutions that work hard to protect the planet, the organization said on its website.

For more information, contact Getterman at 254-710-3768 or or visit the Office of Sustainability at Baylor.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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