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Report Card 2009

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Key Findings

Among the 300 schools evaluated this year, the level of campus sustainability initiatives far outpaces that of endowment sustainability activity. The chart, at right, illustrates the percentage of “A” grades in each of the nine categories. For all schools in the College Sustainability Report Card 2009 , key findings include:


More than one-third of schools earned an overall grade of “B-”or better (38 percent, or 114 schools). The cumulative grade distribution is as follows: 5 percent of schools earned cumulative “A” level grades, 33 percent earned “B” level grades, 44 percent earned “C” level grades, 17 percent earned “D” level grades and 1 percent earned “F” level grades. See chart on sidebar.


Campus sustainability initiatives outshine endowment sustainability activity. Strong performance across all six campus categories resulted in a collective total of only 87 “F” grades. In contrast, a widespread lack of endowment sustainability activity resulted in 170 “F” grades in the Shareholder Engagement category and 131 “F” grades in the Endowment Transparency category.


Fifteen schools are recognized as overall College Sustainability Leaders. Schools whose campus operations and endowment practices merited an overall grade of “A-” qualify as College Sustainability Leaders–our highest level of recognition. See list on the  Leadership Challenge page.


More than three dozen schools attained Campus Sustainability Leader status. High marks for all six campus categories resulted in 43 colleges and universities achieving the Campus Sustainability Leader designation. All such schools received an average grade of “A-” or better for the campus categories. See sidebar.


Fourteen schools qualify as Endowment Sustainability Leaders. These colleges were the only schools to receive an average grade of “A-” or better across all three endowment categories. See sidebar.


A significant percentage of schools have endowment investments in renewable energy funds. Currently, 19 percent of schools report having endowment investments in renewable energy funds. An additional 17 percent report exploring endowment investments in this area. As a result of this and other factors, 37 percent achieved “A” grades in the Investment Priorities category. For more details, see the  Investment Priorities overview.


Schools are weakest in Shareholder Engagement and Endowment Transparency categories. The weakest category was Shareholder Engagement, with an average grade of “D-”; 57 percent of schools received an “F” grade (an additional 12 percent could not be evaluated and received a grade of “NA”) while only 10 percent attained an “A” grade. Similarly, schools fared poorly in the Endowment Transparency category, receiving an average grade of “D”; overall, 44 percent of schools received an “F” grade, while only 11 percent earned an “A” grade. For more details, see the  Shareholder Engagement and Endowment Transparency overviews.


Within the six campus categories, schools perform best in Food & Recycling. An impressive 30 percent of schools earned an “A” grade in this category while only 3 percent of schools received an “F” grade. Notably, 70 percent of schools devote at least a portion of their food budgets to buying from local farms and/or producers. For more details, see the  Food & Recycling overview.


More than half of schools have full-time staff dedicated to sustainability. A majority of schools have recognized the need for full-time campus sustainability administrators. Currently, 56 percent report having dedicated sustainability staff, with additional schools announcing imminent hiring plans. For the Administration category as a whole, 24 percent of schools achieved an “A” grade. For more details, see the  Administration overview.

Increased attention to climate change is reflected in aggressive carbon reduction commitments. With the urgency of confronting climate change receiving increasing attention, almost half the schools have made a commitment to carbon reduction. Almost one in three schools have committed to achieving carbon neutrality in the long term by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Many schools are already taking action, with 37 percent purchasing at least some renewable energy while 34 percent have onsite wind and/or solar energy production. For more details, see the  Climate Change & Energy overview.

Three in five schools have green building projects. A substantial 61 percent of schools have at least one building certified through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system or are in the process of constructing one. Notably, however, only 17 percent received an “A” grade in the Green Building category because many schools lack comprehensive green building policies. For more details, see the  Green Building overview.


The Transportation category shows significant activity. Hybrid or electric vehicles can be found in fleets at 66 percent of schools. Also, 35 percent of schools offer a car-sharing program and 31 percent of schools have bicycle-sharing programs, encouraging the use of alternative transportation. For more details, see the  Transportation overview.


For further facts and analysis, please refer to the summaries in the  Categories section and to the individual school profiles. The category summaries provide descriptions of each of the nine categories and brief highlights about leading schools. Leadership is also recognized by including a list of schools that received an "A" grade in each category.


"A" Grades by Category

A Grades by Category



Overall Grade Distribution

Overall Grade Distribution

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