University earns top ‘green’ rating by Princeton Review
The University of South Carolina has earned a top “green” rating by the Princeton Review, scoring 95 out of a possible 99.
The university was rated higher than all public colleges in South Carolina and earned the second highest rating among all universities in the Southeastern Conference. The University of Florida earned a rating of 97.
Under the leadership of President Harris Pastides, the university has strengthened its commitment to sustainability and taken steps at every level of campus to create a community that is healthier and more engaged in environmental matters.
“Sustainability and support for environmental issues permeate all aspects of campus life at the University of South Carolina, from the dining halls where we serve locally grown produce in biodegradable containers to the classrooms where our students are exposed to environmental topics in a variety of disciplines to the residence halls where our students are encouraged to live in an environmentally aware fashion,” Pastides said. “Sustainability is part of the fabric of life here at Carolina and not a compartmentalized issue.”
Dr. and Mrs. Pastides lead green by example as evidenced by the car they drive, the vegetable gardens in their backyard and various sustainable practices they have implemented in the President’s House.
Michael Koman, director of sustainability at the university, credits the high mark by Princeton Review to the combination of leadership, the hard work of faculty and staff and a student body that is becoming increasingly green-focused.
“It is great to see the efforts of our students, faculty and staff recognized for all their hard work to make our campus more sustainable,” said Koman. “Not only does it reflect our years of effort to green our campus but also to educate our campus community.”
Koman said growth and leadership of environmentally focused student organizations and an array of student-led green initiatives, including Recyclemania, Sustainability Week and a National Teach In, played a key role in the green rating. Other contributing factors included the university’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and cost, commitments to sustainability that range from a green building policy to sustainability education, and successful programs that address climate change, resource conservation and education and outreach such as the Healthy Carolina Initiative.
Examples of campus greening this past year are many, including the replacement of all incandescent light bulbs with energy- and money-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, the use of green cleaning products by custodial staff and vendors on campus and the launch of the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market, which makes fresh and organic vegetables and foods available to the campus and surrounding community.
The newest example of campus greening is the opening of the fourth green building, a new residence hall for South Carolina honors students, this week. The Honors Residence, located between Sumter and Main streets where the Towers once stood, has been designed and constructed to Gold LEED standards as established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The university’s other green buildings include Green (West) Quad residence hall, the Arnold School of Public Health and The Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, which is being constructed behind the Thomas Cooper Library.
“We still have a long way to go, but as we expand and improve our initiatives, we hope to build on the recent momentum,” Koman said. “That, combined with the growing interest of our students in improving their surroundings, should help us reach our goal and set examples for others.”
The Princeton Review developed its Green Rating criteria and institutional survey in 2007 with ecoAmerica, a non-profit environmental organization. The criteria for the rating encompass three broad areas: 1) quality of life on campus that is healthy and sustainable; 2) efforts to prepare students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges; and 3) overall commitment to environmental issues.