Green with envy

The Sustainable Endowments Institute recently gave the University of Georgia an overall grade of ‘A -‘ on their 2011 Green Report Card. SEI, a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and comprised of 11 members ranging from professors to directors of environmental organizations, has conducted green reports of colleges and universities from across the country since 2006. UGA moved up two letter grades from a ‘C’ on last year’s Green Report Card and has earned the distinction of being an “Overall College Sustainability Leader.”

UGA’s upgraded score reflects its commitment to improving stewardship of natural resources and creating a culture of sustainability on its campuses. “This distinction highlights the great work and passionate engagement of many students, faculty and staff in the UGA community,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of the new Office of Sustainability, which is responsible for coordinating, communicating and advancing sustainability initiatives at UGA.

The report card is a survey of the university’s level of environmental sustainability in nine categories ranging from administration to transportation. Due to ongoing programs and recent initiatives, UGA received an ‘A’ in each of the following categories: administration, green building, student involvement, transportation and investment priorities. B’s were given for UGA’s efforts in climate change and energy, food and recycling, and endowment transparency.

“The SEI ranking has helped to bring sustainability to the forefront of higher education concerns,” said Kirsche. “Now, similar rating systems have emerged to evaluate the depth and breadth at which universities incorporate sustainability into academics and operations.”

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has developed a comprehensive Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. The University of Georgia is registered as a charter participant in the STARS program and plans to submit its report within the next year.

The UGA Office of Sustainability works closely with departments and individuals to coordinate, communicate and advance sustainability initiatives at UGA and is a division of the Office of Finance and Administration.