College Sustainability Report Card lauds green initiatives
The University of South Carolina earned a B on the annual College Sustainability Report Card 2010, a rating that puts Carolina among the greenest universities in the Southeast.
The rating of U.S. universities and colleges, issued annually by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, reflects successful climate and energy efforts, a firm institutional commitment to sustainability and greater student involvement, Sustainability Director Michael Koman said.
“We improved our scores in seven of nine ranking areas, which is an extremely significant accomplishment for just one year,” Koman said. “I’m especially proud of the huge jump from a C to an A grade in student involvement. This not only shows the concern of our students, but also gives them the credit for all their work over the past year on initiatives such as Recyclemania, Teach In, Power Shift and Earth Hour. Groups such as SAGE, Net Impact, Student Government and the Residence Hall Association have taken the lead on sustainability issues and are setting an example for many campuses across the country.”
Koman said President Harris Pastides and Patricia Moore-Pastides are leading by example, with the greening of the President’s House that includes the creation of gardens that provide food for many social functions. Students have launched the annual Sustainability Week, Earth Week, the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market, National Teach In, Powershift, Recyclemania and organic gardening and composting at Green (West) Quad.
“The university’s success extends to every level of the university, including the incorporation of green practices in construction and services, commitment to climate neutrality and education,” Koman said.
The Honors Residence Hall, which opened in August, was designed and built at Gold LEED standards. Dining facilities use bio-boxes for to-go items and reward students for using eco-sound tableware. The university recently completed its greenhouse gas emission inventory for the past five years and has increased renewable energy on campus. Sustainability is being incorporated into many courses, and The Darla Moore School of Business has established sustainable enterprise and development as a major initiative for the school, Koman said.
The future is bright and green for the state’s flagship university as it works to become carbon neutral. On the horizon are efforts that will encourage cycling, convert food grease from campus dining into diesel fuel, expand bio fuel use by the campus fleet, upgrade energy conservation, improve irrigation by way of weather-based sensors, and more.
“We look forward to bolstering our green practices and extending our sustainability initiatives into additional areas of campus and developing new initiatives to improve our efforts in all categories, no matter our grade,” Koman said.
At its second annual Earth Summit on Oct. 23, the university will set goals to earn an A ranking in the College Sustainability Report Card in the next few years.
The College Sustainability Report Card 2010 is the latest affirmation of the university’s commitment to being a leader in sustainability. In August, the university scored 95 out of a possible 99 in the green rating by Princeton Review.
“Besides being a leader in the Southeast for sustainability, our campus efforts have led to saving millions of dollars annually and significantly reducing our environmental impact,” Koman said. “As environmental issues increase in importance, the progress our campus is making toward sustainability is something that our students, faculty and staff can all take pride in.”
The university will launch a green Web site during Sustainability Week (Oct. 15 – 23). The College Sustainability Report Card 2010 is available online at www.greenreportcard.org.