'Green' report card: Local colleges excel



Greenreportcard.org's annual College Sustainability Report Card released this morning. And your eco-mindedMom and Dad are going to be excited with the results.


In our region, both the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Colorado State University-Pueblo received grades of B+, and Colorado College got an A-. The latter means that CC qualifies as one of just 52 Overall College Sustainability Leaders named by the report.

The document, which is published under the auspices of the Sustainable Endowments Institute of Cambridge, Mass., evaluates the eco-friendliness of 322 campuses across the U.S. and Canada. It looks at both the schools' day-to-day operations and their endowment practices, including indicators such as the existence of a campus farm or garden, the implementation of trayless dining, and green building policies. Overall, the improvement of U.S. and Canadian institutions since 2006 has been dramatic — for instance, 75 percent of the colleges and universities surveyed have a trayless dining program (intended to reduce hot water use), compared with 0 percent four years ago.

By Friday, visitors to greenreportcard.org will find myriad ways to explore the contents of the 2011 report. For instance, they can peruse more than 10,000 pages of material voluntarily released by the schools themselves, or use an interactive map to zero in on the institution of their choice.

Now in its fourth year, the College Sustainability Report Card promotes the cause of ecological well-being in colleges and universities through research and education. Though often used as a PR buzzword, the report defines "sustainability" using nine specific categories and stresses its compatibility with good business practice and frugality. Says Institute executive director Mark Orlowski in a release, "the projected return on investment from improved energy efficiency over the next 10 years is estimated to be 23 percent per year."

In times when eco-hype seems to be skyrocketing faster than the national debt, that's good news indeed.

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