BU’s commitment to becoming a more sustainable community has earned accolades from two different organizations. The University was recently ranked the 25th most sustainable college in the United States by SaveOnEnergy, an online marketplace that helps residential and commercial energy consumers use gas and electricity as efficiently as possible.
The second tip to BU’s efforts to become greener is inclusion in the Princeton Review Guide to 361 Green Colleges, 2016, for the sixth consecutive year.
“Recognition is important. I think BU is doing a lot, and we have a lot to do, but it is always satisfying to be recognized,” says Dennis Carlberg, BU sustainability director. “What we are doing successfully is engaging our community in sustainability, changing the culture here, and providing good infrastructure.”
Many of the University’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint are outlined in sustainability@BU’s 2015 Annual Report, which notes that in the past decade, BU has reduced it carbon dioxide emissions by 23 percent, increased recycling by 39 percent, increased sustainable food supply in dining halls and on-campus restaurants by 22 percent, and reduced waste by 13 percent. The report also says that the University offers more than 150 sustainability-related courses and is home to two dozen student groups that promote sustainability in some way.
To compile its annual list, SaveOnEnergy grades and then ranks the schools listed on the 2017 US News and World Report Top 100 Universities. It takes into account the accomplishments cited in sustainability@BU’s annual report, as well as factors like the walkability of the campus, the proximity of the University to farmers markets and parks, and the availability of green jobs in the area. Based on that data, BU was given a grade of 60.94 out of a possible 100 points, earning the designation of 25th most sustainable among the schools ranked.
“It makes me proud to be a part of an institution that cares so much about being green,” says sustainability ambassador Montana Airey (CAS’17). “With our LEED buildings, solar power on SED, the sustainability ambassador program, our composting and recycling, I think that BU stands at the forefront of some of these efforts and is showing other universities and institutions that it is possible. It shows that the university cares, that it is looking out for the good of the environment and the health of its staff, and wants the best for its students.”
Inclusion in the Princeton Review Guide to 361 Green Colleges, 2016, is determined by factors such as campus policies and initiatives, sustainability-related academic opportunities, and information submitted by BU to the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.
“I think that it’s wonderful that we’ve maintained our ranking,” says sustainability ambassador Antonio Chidiac (CAS’17).
While Carlberg appreciates the plaudits, he says the University is not content to rest on its laurels, but continues to strive to become even more sustainable.
“If we’re not performing well in some areas, as compared to our peers, then that’s something for us to have a conversation about,” Carlberg says. “I would much rather use this reporting as a way to inform ourselves about what we do as opposed to trying to chase the prize. It’s really about informing what we’re doing so we can do better.”
Liz Vanderau can be reached at email@example.com.