The College Sustainability Report Card 2009 evaluates the colleges and universities in the United States and Canada with the 300 largest endowments. The schools are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 8 Canadian provinces.
Policies were reviewed at 181 private institutions and at 119 public institutions. The total endowment assets of the schools equal more than $380 billion. The 300 schools are a mix of large and small institutions of higher education. Together, they count more than 4.2 million currently enrolled students.
It should be noted that not only endowment size, but also endowment size per student, help determine the resources available to undertake more capital-intensive sustainability upgrades on campus. This disparity may be reflected in some category grades, which take into account indicators requiring major funding.
Recognizing this gap, one of the goals of the Report Card is to help schools learn from others in similar financial situations—how have they been able to make more sustainability advances with comparable budget constraints?
The Report Card also seeks to highlight sustainability measures that involve either no extra expenditures or only require modest budgets. Examples of low-budget sustainability measures can be found in the profiles and in the list of indicators used to evaluate the nine categories, especially the following: Administration, Student Involvement, Endowment Transparency, Investment Priorities, and Shareholder Engagement.
Furthermore, indicators for other categories that may involve large expenditures also take into account low budget items. For example, indicators for the Transportation category include bicycle programs and incentives for carpooling or using public transportation, while the Food & Recycling category evaluates indicators such as local food purchasing or composting programs.
For more information on the selection process, please refer to full the Methodology section.