Georgetown’s eco-friendly practices deserve a B grade, according to the nonprofit Sustainable Endowments Institute, which evaluates colleges and universities every year on their environmental efforts in its College Sustainability Report Card.
The grade from the 2011 edition of the ratings remains the same as last year’s, but it is a significant improvement from earlier scores. The first report card, published in 2006, gave Georgetown a C+.
Audrey Stewart, the university’s program coordinator for sustainability, said she is happy with the score.
“Georgetown deserves credit for what it is doing well,” she said in an email. “Our recycling program is impressive compared to many of our peer institutions, and our climate commitment is ambitious and on track. The SEI recognized that by giving us an A in each of those categories.”
The report’s assessment includes nine policy categories in total. The university also received A’s in two categories related to endowment, but it scored B’s for the sustainability of its administration, green building, student involvement and transportation. It also received a D for the transparency of its billion-dollar endowment, since it releases no specific details on where the money is invested.
Stewart said that fostering student participation in sustainability was a particular challenge.
“[Student involvement] improves not through basic infrastructure changes but through new forms of partnerships, education and relationship-building,” she said. “It makes sense that it will take longer. And as always, a challenge goes back out to students to develop effective and meaningful ways to act as partners in the process.”
The report also praised the university’s pledge that any new buildings it constructs will meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard for energy-efficient architecture. The Rafik B. Hariri Building earned LEED certification earlier this year.
Georgetown has also made a public commitment to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases per square foot of building space to half of their 2006 level by the end of the next decade. The university has already cut emissions by 20 percent.