UGA was recently chosen for the Princeton Review’s 2011 Green College Honor Roll. The Review evaluated 703 schools based on data collected from the schools in 2009-2010 concerning their environmentally related policies, practices and academic offerings.
The Review assigned each school a score of 60-99 based on its level of environmental friendliness. The 18 schools that received a ranking of 99 were selected for the honor roll.
“The University of Georgia remains committed to improving natural resources and advancing campus sustainability,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of sustainability. “From restoring water, land and air to conserving energy and promoting quality of life, UGA students, faculty and staff are actively engaged on campus, in the community and around the globe.”
In its summary of the most environmentally friendly schools, the Princeton Review specifically highlighted the aggressive steps UGA has taken to conserve water on campus, such as installing rain gardens, planting native species, installing low-flow toilets and showerheads, recycling water in research labs and even limiting flushes in stadium bathrooms during football games.
The “Every Drop Counts” campaign has resulted in a 30 percent reduction in campus water usage since it was implemented in 2007.
The Academy of the Environment, a venue for cross-disciplinary collaboration in research, graduate and undergraduate training, and public education and outreach involving more than 100 members of the UGA faculty, also was mentioned by the Review. Other highlights of the summary include the existence of the first stand-alone school of ecology and the cross collaboration of students and faculty from a variety of academic departments who conduct research related to environmental issues. Examples of such collaboration include engineering students conducting energy audits on campus buildings, students in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication looking for ways to promote energy conservation and recycling and students in the River Basin Science and Policy Center researching water quality in area streams.
The Princeton Review developed its green rating criteria and institutional survey in 2007 with ecoAmerica (www.ecoamerica.org), a nonprofit environmental organization that continues to participate in this project. The criteria for the rating cover three broad areas: whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable; how well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges; and the school’s overall commitment to environmental issues. The institutional survey for the rating included 10 questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings and transportation to academic offerings and action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions.
The Princeton Review noted that interest among students in attending green colleges continues to rise. Among 12,000 college applicants and parents of applicants the Princeton Review surveyed this year for its annual “College Hopes and Worries Survey,” 4 percent of respondents said they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment.