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Report Card 2008

Sustainability Innovator Awards

While the College Sustainability Report Card 2008 highlights the schools with the 200 largest endowments in the United States and Canada, sustainability innovators among colleges and universities with smaller endowments also merit recognition.


Accordingly, the Sustainable Endowments Institute solicited nominations for schools not included in the Report Card 2008. The Institute accepted nominations–consisting of a detailed description of sustainability initiatives–for any college or university in the United States or Canada that was not one of the 200 schools featured in the Report Card. For more details on the nomination and selection process, please see Methodology.


The awards recognize school initiatives for either a comprehensive sustainability strategy or a specific category in the Report Card.


After reviewing the nominations, the Sustainable Endowments Institute chose four winners for the 2008 Sustainability Innovator Awards:


College of the Atlantic 

Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy


College of the Atlantic strives to reduce carbon emissions and its overall footprint on the planet. Offering only one degree, human ecology, the entire college community is centered on the concept of sustainability. The college has committed to going carbon neutral by the end of 2007 through reducing emissions and purchasing offsets. As part of this commitment, the college recently signed a three-year contract with an in-state, low-impact hydroelectric power plant to provide 100 percent of its electricity needs.


The campus features recycling stations and compost bins (including Green Cones conveniently placed around campus for composting small amounts of food waste from dormitories). Other sustainability measures include fluorescent lightbulbs, fresh local farm produce in the dining hall (some of it from the college’s own farm), and student dorms under construction that will be heated with wood pellets.


When making practical decisions regarding sustainability, the entire college is involved. The community meets in a small auditorium to decide which trees need to be removed for the new dorms, what furniture is the most sustainable, and how to make this year’s Earth Day celebration even more successful.

In relation to the endowment, the college recently created a shareholder advisory committee. It supports shareholder proposals that foster sustainability and reduce carbon emissions at the companies in which the college’s endowment is invested.


In relation to the endowment, the College of the Atlantic recently created a shareholder advisory committee. It supports shareholder proposals that foster sustainability and reduce carbon emissions at the companies in which the college’s endowment is invested.


Grand Valley State University

Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy


Grand Valley State University (GVSU) began its comprehensive planning to become a sustainable campus in 2004. A "triple bottom line" report based on environmental, social, and economic factors was developed in 2005. In the past year, the university’s president signed the Talloires Declaration and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.


Net energy use per square foot has decreased for the past five years; dining services has reduced water use by eliminating trays; and a student-developed sustainability guide is given to all incoming first-year and MBA students. Energy conservation competitions between student living centers have been developed, with winners choosing sustainability projects funded by the money saved.


GVSU hired a campus sustainability director, who, in turn, helped create a Community Sustainability Partnership, including more than 125 businesses, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and the city of Grand Rapids. The stakeholders in the partnership share best practices in sustainability, a process facilitated by quarterly summits.


The university has committed to LEED-certified construction procedures for all new buildings, and has established a bus shuttle system to connect its different campuses, reducing private vehicle use. Through these and other initiatives, GVSU has developed an overall commitment to sustainability that integrates campus operations, student involvement, curricular development, and community engagement.


University of Calgary 

Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy


In 2006, the University of Calgary embarked on a comprehensive strategy for campus sustainability. Under the organizational structure of the Sustainability Stewardship Working Group, chaired by the director of campus sustainability, 13 interdisciplinary teams have a mandate to research, identify, implement, and report on initiatives that directly address priorities for campus sustainability.


The teams address the following issues: governance and senior administration; curriculum and research; participation, collaboration, and communication; student clubs; procurement; transportation and mobility; energy and atmosphere; water management; land planning and new buildings; existing buildings; operations and maintenance; solid waste management; and health, safety, and wellness.


Each team is comprised of students, faculty, and staff representing a cross section of faculties and departments, and will soon be co-chaired by both a staff and a faculty member. By including all campus stakeholders, important cross-disciplinary solutions are developed, pan-campus dialogue is fostered, opportunities for leadership emerge, and the journey toward sustainability is furthered in a comprehensive way.


The university envisions a model of continuous improvement. Research enhances campus operations; operations provide opportunities for applied research; and the new knowledge informs curriculum development and the creation of future leaders.


Seattle University

Food & Recycling


Seattle University proves that even urban campuses in large cities can run successful composting programs. Between 1995 and 2002, the university collected preconsumer food waste, waxed cardboard, and coffee grounds from campus restaurants and cafés, all of which was sent to a nearby compost facility. In 2002, the university built its own compost facility, which helped its new LEED-certified student center achieve a LEED innovation point.


Located just off campus, adjacent to an apartment building and restaurants, in a neighborhood of homes and businesses, the compost facility has now operated for five years without odor or rodent issues. The facility annually turns 15 tons of kitchen food waste and landscaping waste (both from campus operations and local landscaping companies) into compost, which is applied on planting beds to improve soil quality. A full-time recycling/composting technician position was added to the staff to help manage the program. This person gives frequent tours to students, staff, and faculty, as well as to other universities seeking to model Seattle University’s program.


The compost facility closes the recycling loop on campus, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the need for a truck to haul food waste and compost between the campus and a facility elsewhere, and produces compost of exceptional quality–better than the university could purchase commercially, according to lab analysis.




Sustainability Innovators

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