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Colleges Get Graded On Sustainability

Colleges across the U.S. and Canada are stepping up green practices and policies, with more than two out of three schools improving performance over the last year, according to the new College Sustainability Report Card 2008 (PDF).

According to the report, the overall college sustainability leaders are Carleton College, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Middlebury College, University of Vermont, and University of Washington.

Last year, the highest sustainability grades were received by Harvard University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and Williams College.

While schools are earning higher marks for green initiatives in campus operations, a majority of the wealthiest institutions continue to lag in applying sustainability practices to their endowment investments. The categories with the lowest overall grades were Shareholder Engagement with 66 percent “Fs” and Endowment Transparency with 58 percent “Fs.” In contrast, failing grades averaged only 10 percent across the five campus categories of Administration, Climate Change & Energy, Food & Recycling, Green Building, and Transportation.

Nearly 45 percent of colleges have committed to fight climate change through cutting carbon emissions. Green building standards guide new construction at 59 percent of schools, while 42 percent use hybrid or electric vehicles. Further, 37 percent purchase renewable energy and 30 percent produce their own wind or solar energy. A substantial 70 percent buy from local farms and 64 percent serve fair trade coffee.

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