Sustainability grade up thanks to bike program

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TCU is officially more sustainable by half a letter grade.

The university received a D+ on the The College Sustainability Report Card released Wednesday, an improvement from the D it received on the last evaluation.

The College Sustainability Report Card is a study conducted by the Sustainable Endowments Institute that grades 100 colleges on campus greening practices and endowment policies.

Will Stallworth, associate vice chancellor for facilities, said he thinks TCU is “far ahead of most other universities.”

“We have had an aggressive energy program and solid administration funding support since 1996,” Stallworth said. “How we actually perform is difficult to measure because of campus growth.”

The university spent about $37 million in 1996 to make the campus more energy efficient, Stallworth said. Since then, he said, TCU has taken many steps toward efficiency from installing an ice storage system to take advantage of lower evening utility rates to upgrading campus irrigation systems.

The Purple Bike Program helped to improve TCU’s grade, receiving the university’s highest grade, a B, in the transportation category.

Keith Whitworth, sociology professor and founder of the Purple Bike Program, said he is encouraged by the high transportation grade.

“This is just evidence of how small changes can make a difference on campus,” Whitworth said. “The fact that the report mentioned the Purple Bike Program means it was a good investment by the Board of Trustees.”

TCU didn’t do as well in the other seven categories. It received D’s in administration and climate change and energy; C’s in food and recycling and green building and investment priorities; and F’s in endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.

TCU received an F in endowment policy for the second year in a row because TCU has “no known policy of disclosure of endowment holdings or its shareholder voting record,” according to the report.

Last year, Chief Investment Officer Jim Hille said he sees endowment transparency as a “strategic disadvantage.”

The F in shareholder engagement was because TCU “has not made any public statements about active ownership or a proxy voting policy,” according to the report.

Of the eight Texas schools evaluated, TCU did better than Texas Tech University and Trinity University.