Many of the 322 schools evaluated in the College Sustainability Report Card 2011 experienced a surge in green initiatives during the past year. Key findings include:
More than one-half of schools earned an overall grade of “B” or better (56 percent, or 179 schools). The cumulative grade distribution is as follows: 16 percent of schools earned cumulative “A” level grades, 55 percent earned “B” level grades, 23 percent earned “C” level grades, and 6 percent earned “D” level grades.
Fifty-two schools are recognized as Overall College Sustainability Leaders. Schools whose campus operations and endowment practices merited an overall grade of “A-” qualify as Overall College Sustainability Leaders, our highest level of recognition. See list on the Overall College Sustainability Leaders page.
Campus sustainability initiatives outshine endowment sustainability activity. Strong performance across all six campus categories resulted in a collective total of only 35 “F” grades. In contrast, a widespread lack of endowment sustainability activity resulted in 109 “F” grades in the Shareholder Engagement category and 41 “F” grades in the Endowment Transparency category.
More schools attained Campus Sustainability Leader status. High marks for all six campus categories resulted in 120 colleges and universities achieving the Campus Sustainability Leader designation. All such schools received an average grade of “A-” or better for the campus categories.
Twenty-three schools qualify as Endowment Sustainability Leaders. These colleges were the only schools to merit an average grade of “A-” or better across all three endowment categories.
A significant percentage of schools have endowment investments in renewable energy funds. Currently, 49 percent of schools report having endowment investments in renewable energy funds. An additional 43 percent report exploring endowment investments in this area. As a result of this and other factors, 57 percent achieved “A” grades in the Investment Priorities category. For more details, see the Investment Priorities page.
Schools are weakest in Shareholder Engagement and Endowment Transparency categories. The weakest category was Shareholder Engagement, with an average grade of “D”; 35 percent of schools received an “F” grade (an additional 26 percent could not be evaluated and received a grade of “NA”) while only 11 percent attained an “A” grade. Similarly, schools fared poorly in the Endowment Transparency category, receiving an average grade of “C”; overall, 13 percent of schools received an “F” grade, while only 16 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 Administration and Student Involvement. Both of these areas are influential in helping schools achieve their sustainability goals. An impressive 49 percent of schools earned an "A" grade in the Administration category, while only 2 percent were at the "F" grade level. For more details, see the Administration overview. Comparably, 44 percent of schools achieved an "A" grade in the Student Involvement category, while only 3 percent received an "F" grade. For more details, see the Student Involvement overview.
Three-quarters of schools have full-time staff dedicated to sustainability. A majority of schools have recognized the need for full-time campus sustainability administrators. Currently, 75 percent report having dedicated sustainability staff, with additional schools announcing imminent hiring plans. 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. More than half the 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 38 percent purchasing at least some renewable energy while 52 percent have on-site wind, solar, or geothermal energy production. For more details, see the Climate Change & Energy 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.