Despite taking a few steps toward becoming greener, Georgetown earned the same grades in all categories in the Sustainability Endowments Institute’s yearly green report card.
Over the last year, Georgetown has introduced several initiatives to increase sustainability, according to a report issued by the university. The university installed 236 occupancy sensors in rooms across campus to reduce energy consumption and improved its rate of recycling by 25 percent, while O’Donovan Hall began offering organic Grab `n’ Go’s this year.
This year, nearly two-thirds of the surveyed universities improved their scores, reflecting greater investment in sustainable energy.
Despite this overall trend and several institutional improvements last year, Georgetown received a B- for the second year in a row on the 2009 report card.
SEI releases a green report card each year that evaluates universities’ performance in creating and maintaining an environmentally responsible campus. It ranks the 300 schools with the largest endowments in the United States and Canada.
Georgetown’s highest grade came in the investment priorities category, earning the top A grade. “[Georgetown] aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds,” the report states.
However, the university did not rake in any other top marks. Its lowest grade came in the endowment transparency category – an F – for the third straight year.
“The university makes a list of endowment holdings and its shareholder voting record available only to trustees and senior administrators,” the report states.
Other categories in which institutions are evaluated are administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, shareholder engagement and transportation. Georgetown earned B grades in all these categories except climate change and energy and shareholder engagements, in which it received C grades.
The university ranked well in comparison to many D.C.-area universities.
American University tied Georgetown’s B-, while George Washington University received a C+, Gallaudet University received a D, Catholic University of America received a D- and Howard University received an F.
Some of the top-ranking colleges were Brown University, Columbia College, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania.
“This ranking is one measure of our efforts in this area, but our real focus is on developing GU’s carbon footprint so that we can benchmark progress ourselves,” university spokesperson Julie Bataille said.
Jonathan Cohn (COL ’10) of Georgetown’s EcoAction said that even though Georgetown received the same grade on its report card, this does not reflect the progress it is making. Cohn said he was happy to see Leo’s introduce “Organic To Go,” which has been popular among students.
Dan Bliss (SFS ’10), EcoAction co-president with Jonathan Cohn, said Georgetown’s grade jumped largely because of the new business and science buildings that will be LEED-certified. Additionally, all construction waste will be recycled.
“Georgetown’s lack of endowment transparency holds our overall grade back tremendously, despite progress we’ve made in getting organic food for Leo’s Grab ‘n’ Go, reworking much of the recycling framework with the forward-thinking Recycling Director Bill Del Vecchio and investing in renewable energy funds,” Bliss said. “The fact of the matter is that the administration has really opened up to student input over the past couple of years.”
On Oct. 8, Georgetown will host a Green Fair to showcase sustainability initiatives, according to Cohn, as well as to launch the energy saving competition between dorms.
“Hoya energy is one of the best forms of renewable energy,” Cohn said.