Baylor Named to the ‘Cool Schools’ List for Campus Sustainability Practices

Cool School 2018
Cardboard boxes are broken down and recycled by volunteers during Move-in Days, one of the ongoing sustainable efforts at Baylor. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
Aug. 28, 2018

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (Aug. 28, 2017) – Baylor University’s ongoing commitment to sustainability has been honored for the fifth time by SIERRA Magazine, which has named the University to its 2018 “Cool Schools” list.

Baylor is one of 11 universities from Texas and one of four Big 12 Conference schools among the 268 four-year colleges and universities in the United States and Canada along with two-year community colleges honored for their campus sustainability practices. The annual Cool Schools Rankings assess colleges’ performance in several areas, including electricity usage, sources of cafeteria food, water management and more.

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. SIERRA then processes the STARS data through a custom-built formula that ranked schools across 18 categories.

“Being honored with another appearance on the SIERRA Club’s Cool School’s List is evidence of Baylor University’s continued dedication to the judicious stewardship of the resources endowed to us by the Creator,” said Smith Getterman, director of sustainability and special projects at Baylor. “This is an effort that involves the entire campus community, and our success is only made possible by those that share our unique vision for God’s Creation.”

Sustainable 2020

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:

Dining: 20 percent locally sourced food in residence hall cafeterias

2017 Update: Locally sourced food in residence hall cafeterias increased to 13.5 percent.

Waste: 30 percent diversion rate

2017 Update: University waste diversion rate increased to 27 percent, from a 2010 FY baseline.

Energy/Water: Reduce university greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020 from a 2010 FY baseline, including growth, and reduce university-wide water use 17 percent by 2020 from a 2010 FY baseline.

2017 Update: University greenhouse gas emissions and university-wide water use together decreased by 15.1 percent overall, from a 2010 FY baseline.

This fall, Baylor Sustainability and Dining Services partner Aramark took another step forward in reducing waste from dining halls and in the waterways that run by and through campus by initiating the first phase of curtailing single-use plastic straws. Although straws are no longer available in the drink areas in the residential dining locations, they remain available on request and with to-go meals until an alternative solution is found. Other waste-reducing initiatives include trayless dining, reusable to-go boxes and eliminating Styrofoam cups. In addition, Aramark has implemented streamlined methods to measure food production and leftovers and increased its use of locally sourced food.

“When we give serious consideration to caring for God’s creation, and what that looks like for our community, we know that curtailing plastic straw use on campus will have a positive impact, especially on Waco Creek and the Brazos River, which run through campus and are seen by thousands of students, alumni and visitors every week,” Getterman said. “We are fortunate to work with partners in Baylor Dining Services, who have continually shown a shared commitment to being good stewards of our resources as we have worked to address these issues in a comprehensive way.”

Other sustainable highlights from the past year:

• Baylor’s Campus Kitchen student organization recovered nearly 16,000 pounds of unused food from campus dining halls and Panera Bread’s Day-End Dough-Nation Program, which were transported to the Salvation Army Men’s Center and Caritas food bank to help feed the hungry. In addition, CKBU student volunteers prepared 150 fresh and nutritious meals each week with uncooked food from dining halls and fresh produce from the Campus Kitchen Community Garden to send to the Mission Waco Youth Center, The Cove and Family Abuse Center.

• Baylor opened The Store, a free food pantry located in the Paul L. Foster Success Center that provides students in need with supplemental food so they can fully thrive at Baylor. In addition to The Store,Baylor also offers The Fridge, a series of mini-fridges placed throughout campus that provide access to quick snacks and healthy meals for students that need it most; the Baylor Free Farmers Market, a bi-annual event on Fountain Mall that combines free food distribution with efforts to raise awareness about hunger, nutrition, wellness and other related issues; and the Baylor Mobile Food Pantry, a collaboration with Seventh & James Baptist Church and Family of Faith Worship Center to bring free fresh produce to Baylor students in the Seventh & James parking lot once a month.

Taking the LEED

In 2009, Baylor became the first university in Texas to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for an existing building, Truett Seminary’s Baugh-Reynolds Campus. The honor given to Truett recognizes facilities that implement practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

In recent years, several new Baylor buildings have been LEED certified, including the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center and the Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility, which are part of the Highers Athletic Complex; Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center; Marrs McLean Science Building; the East Village Complex (Teal Hall, Earle Hall and East Village Dining Commons) and the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

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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