Campus not so green, gets C-

Campus not so green, gets C-

Northeastern’s report card arrived, and it looks like Mother Nature may give the school a timeout.

The school received a C- in a report, released by The Sustainable Endowments Institute Jan. 24. It evaluated 100 colleges across the nation and in Canada on their campus’ greening practices and endowment policies.

The College Sustainability Report Card assessed 26 indicators and used a letter grading system to evaluate schools’ performances. The study shows some leading schools are taking initiatives both on campus and in endowment sustainability while other school have shown a less proactive commitment.

Scoring average grades in climate change and energy, administration and food and recycling, the university received an A in investment priorities but failed endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.

Harvard University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College and Williams College received the only A- grades, the highest cumulative sustainability rating; 22 earned a B grade, 54 earned a C and 20 earned a D, including Boston University.

The report was released for the first time and it will become an annual report, said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

“What we wanted to do [with the report] is spark discussion and dialogue on sustainability,” Orlowski said. “I don’t want schools to fixate on the letter grades, but rather start new, innovative programs.”

There was no correlation found between large and small schools or public and private ones, although the differences in urban and rural schools were taken into consideration, he said. Many of the categories like administration and climate energy control do not make a big difference in the final result, but food and recycling can be more challenging, Orlowski said.

Fred McGrail, director of communications, said Northeastern takes energy conservation and environmental protection seriously.

He believes Northeastern’s actions toward achieving a more green university are reflected when walking around campus.

Keeping the thermostats down in offices, recycling asphalt and using florescent materials are some of the ways in which Northeastern is protecting the environment, McGrail said.

“I don’t think [the sustainability report] accurately reflects Northeastern,” he said. “I think students really recognize what we’re doing. We’re moving aggressively in the right direction, and there’s evidence of it.”

McGrail said that as a university they feels good about the steps being taken. There is always room for improvement, but the university is doing the right thing in creating a greener environment he said.

Members of Huskies Environmental Action Team (HEAT) are thankful for the work the university has put into the environment, but agree that there is room for improvement.

“I definitely think [a C-] is an appropriate grade. It shows we’ve got a lot of work to do, but the university has made good changes. Just today, I was in Ryder and I noticed they installed a water-saving system in the bathrooms,” said Katie Colluccio, a sophomore environmental science major and member of HEAT.

Jennifer Wolfson, co-director of HEAT said the university is making an effort.

“People [at Northeastern] are working hard, but I feel like it hasn’t been a priority.”

This week, Northeastern is participating in the “Week of Action” hosted by HEAT, the Students for Environmental Action and numerous other student groups. Some events during the week include screenings of the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and talks by Professors Jennifer Cole and Dan Douglass.

“This is an opportunity to educate students. We want to see change in Northeastern and see it be the best it can be,” Wolfson said.

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