For the second year in a row, Quinnipiac has received the barely passing grade of a D- on the College Sustainability Report Card. The Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, examines colleges and universities on the basis of their sustainability efforts.
Lisa Chase, Senior Communications Fellow with the Sustainable Endowments Institute, helps to publicize the annual Green Report Card.
“Colleges and universities, as leaders of innovation in our society, have the potential to demonstrate sustainable principles in their campus operations and endowment policies,” Chase said. ‘Their examples can provide a road map for others to follow.”
According to the College Sustainability Report Card Web site, it is “the only comparative evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and in Canada.”
The first Green Report Card was issued in 2007. Quinnipiac was first included last year, also receiving a grade of D- in 2009’s Report Card.
In the 2009 report, there were three categories of surveys: the campus survey, dining survey and endowment survey. The dining survey was the only one returned by Quinnipiac. In the 2010 report, a student survey was added to make four categories. The dining survey was again the only one returned for results.
“The University does not participate in the survey,” said Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs. “Nevertheless, they choose to grade us on incomplete information that does not paint a full picture of Quinnipiac’s green efforts.”
“We have a 96 percent response rate for our Green Report Card surveys,” Chase said. “In the case where a college or University does not respond to a survey, we collect our data from publicly available and verifiable sources. Of course, we prefer that schools respond to all of the surveys, as they will then be able to provide us with information about their sustainability initiatives that may not be publicly available.
“As the Green Report Cards demonstrate, we’ve seen an increase in sustainability initiatives every year at college and university campuses across North America,” Chase said. “This year is particularly noteworthy, since most schools’ endowment funds fell, but social and environmental sustainability efforts increased.”
Michele Jacklin is the director of media relations at another Trinity College, also in Connecticut.
“I don’t think that efforts to reduce a college’s carbon footprint can be reduced to a simple grade,” Jacklin said. “It perpetuates the wrongheaded notion that everything a college does can be reduced to a ranking or a grade.”
Trinity College did slightly better than Quinnipiac with a grade of C-.
“Trinity is moving ahead on some fronts and is continuing to explore dozens of ways to reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. We are examining everything from a bicycle sharing program to hiring a purchasing officer to ensure that all new appliances meet the highest energy conservation standards,” Jacklin said.
Keith Woodward, associate director of facilities at Quinnipiac, works with his staff to bring sustainability to the consciousness of the Quinnipiac community.
Numerous projects have been implemented to carry this out. Projects include the recycling of 167 mattresses for the first time over the summer, the changing of roughly 382 toilets from 3.6 gallons to 1.5 gallon flush to save 2 million gallons of water and a strong recycling program. The Roots and Shoots student organization and facilities have partnered for the Bobcat Bulb Swap, in which students could bring in incandescent lightbulbs in exchange for strong Energy Star compact fluorescent lightbulbs. The school is also buying more green custodial chemicals and buying paper towels with 40 percent recycled fiber.
Additionally, a launch of two new e-mail addresses to concentrate on immediate reports of sustainability concerns is coming up this semester. [email protected] and [email protected] will be released with the intent for students to have an outlet to e-mail if one may see a light on during the day or a faucet dripping.
“Normally I don’t want to bypass work order systems, but I know there are times when students are out in community and they notice something but forget it by the time they get back to their room,” Woodward said.
A sophomore tour guide, who wished to remain anonymous, does not believe that green initiatives affect a perspective student’s decision much.
“I’d say in about 100 tours you’ll get about five questions,” the tour guide said. “It was always by a mom, not a kid. They never asked or cared. My honest opinion is it doesn’t make or break their decision.”
The current students, however, are doing a good job according to Woodward.
“I think the students are doing a good job recycling and if they keep it in the forefront every day, then we’re doing great,” Woodward said.