Sustainability Report Card
By Stephanie Martin
Sun Star Reporter
The University of Alaska Fairbanks received an overall C+ from The College Sustainability Report Card 2011. This report grades institutions on how environmentally-friendly they are. Sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” according to greenreportcard.org, the Sustainability Report Card’s website.
Nine categories determined UAF’s grade: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.
The report card used surveys to gather information about the different categories. The grades in each category were added together to create the overall grade.
In the administration category, UAF jumped from a D to B this year. Noted in this category was the creation of the Sustainability Office and sustainability coordinator position. The university now also has a campus-wide recycling program.
UAF received a D in the climate change and energy category. The university is in the process of conducting a greenhouse gas emissions test. “UAF has installed energy-efficient lighting, upgraded HVAC systems, and performed system tune-ups,” according to greenreportcard.org. Currently, solar panels are also being tested. Michelle Hebert, Sustainability Coordinator, says the panels are “working great.”
Food and Recycling received a B. One noticeable improvement was dining service’s effort to create a greener campus. Dining services does trayless dining, and composts food scraps. A wide variety of vegetables are also grown on campus, Hebert said.
The green building category examined school’s building practices and campus maintenance. UAF received a D in this category. Hebert believes this is because “we did not get a very detailed report to green report card as we did not have a sustainability director and because our chancellor has a strong commitment to signing only things he thinks he can accomplish.”
Student involvement received an A and was UAF’s highest grade. Currently, the university employs seven paid sustainability interns. In 2009, students voted to add a sustainability fee of $20 per student, per semester. What this fee will fund will be decided on Dec. 1, according to Hebert.
Three electric vehicles and five gasoline-electric hybrids helped earn the university a B in the transportation category. Free public transit also reduces pollution created by transportation to and from the campus.
The university earned a D in endowment transparency. A password-protected website lists endowment holdings. Trustees and senior administrators can access this information. A list of asset allocation and external managers can be reviewed by the public and is sent upon request.
UAF received a C in the investment priorities category. “The foundation aims to optimize investment returns and does not invest the endowment in on-campus sustainability projects, renewable energy funds, or community development loan funds,” College Sustainability Report Card said.
University of Alaska Anchorage received a B on the sustainability report card for 2011.
College Sustainability Report Card calls itself “the first interactive website to provide in-depth sustainability profiles for hundreds of colleges in all 50 U.S. states and in Canada.”