QU receives “D-” from Green Report Card

Joe Pelletier

While Quinnipiac University may be one of the premiere “up and coming” and “innovative” universities in the North (according to their website), Mother Nature begs to differ.
The College Sustainability Report Card, a yearly study of campus and endowment sustainability activities, gave Quinnipiac a grade of “D-” for their commitment to sustainability.
Known as the Green Report Card, the College Sustainability Report evaluations are released yearly, and this is the first year Quinnipiac has been included in the report.
Quinnipiac received an “F” in the categories of Administration, Climate Change & Energy, Green Building, Endowment Transparency, and Shareholder Engagement, and did not receive a grade higher than C in any of the remaining categories.
“The university has no known policy relating to campus-wide sustainability initiatives,” Report Card, which can be found at greenreportcard.org, said. “The university has neither made a formal commitment to reduce emissions nor made progress toward the use of renewable energy.”
Quinnipiac was ranked in the bottom seven percent of overall sustainability out of the 300 schools surveyed, leaving them 21 spots from the poorest sustained campus surveyed.
Report Card is the “only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments,” according to their website. The evaluation included three surveys sent to the schools as well as independent research done online and on the campuses.
Quinnipiac only responded to one of the three surveys, which a Report Card official noted probably put them in a poor position. The schools which received the highest grades (notably Harvard, Dartmouth, Stanford, Columbia and Brown) answered all three surveys.
Quinnipiac was outside of the 91 percent who filed the Campus Survey, and also outside of the 71 percent who filed the Endowment Survey. They did, however, fill out the Dining Survey, and received a C for Project Green Thumb in dining areas.
Quinnipiac administration claimed their poor grade came from a lack of information.
“My first reaction was to think that they mustn’t have all of our information,” vice president of student affairs Lynn Bushnell said. “Hundreds of surveys come through here each year, and we probably just didn’t get to it.”
Bushnell’s point did hold true, as Quinnipiac has recently discussed solar and wind energy on the York hill campus, contrary to their Report Card.
Yale University ranked in the top 11 percent with a grade of B+. The private Ivy League school was commended for signing the G8 University Summit Sapporo Sustainability Declaration, an international bid for global sustainability on college campuses. The school has also reduced emissions 11 percent in that past two years.
However, Quinnipiac’s endowment is far less than that of Yale’s. A better comparison is to Dickinson College, who despite having only $75 million more in their endowment (as compared to the $22 billion difference at Yale) still managed to rank in the top five percent of schools. President William Durden signed onto the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and their college fleet includes hybrid cars and a biodiesel project.
The Presidents Climate Commitment has developed quite a following in the United States. More than 500 college and university presidents have signed onto the commitment, which, according to their website, is a “high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions.” Quinnipiac president John Lahey has not signed onto the commitment.
Lauren Diamante, president of Roots and Shoots at Quinnipiac, remained positive about Quinnipiac’s sustainability situation.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction,” the senior SGA representative said. “What has happened so far is because of the students, and that is how things need to continue if changes are to be made. It’s up to the students.”
Despite the D- from Green Report Card, Bushnell was pleased and hopeful with Quinnipiac.
“My real answer to the sustainability report is the York Hill campus,” Bushnell said. “It is going to be one of the most environmentally-friendly campuses in America.”
As for the Hamden campus, Bushnell spoke of the “difficulties to retrofit” an older campus. Her biggest hopes for sustainability improvements at Quinnipiac lied in the newly created position of “environmental coordinator,” to be put in place next year.
The coordinator will work through student affairs to educate students, faculty, and staff in how to protect and preserve the environment in the best way possible.
“We’re really excited about the future,” Bushnell said. “We have a beautiful campus and two new campuses in the making, and the next logical step is towards making all of these sustainable.”