University receives C-minus on green report card

University receives C-minus on green report card

The university made improvements to go green in recent years, but according to a study released Oct. 7, it still doesn’t make the grade.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute released its annual College Sustainability Report Card, a survey of 332 colleges and institutions in the United States and Canada, including those with the 300 largest endowments, on their overall sustainability.

For the second consecutive year, TCU received a C-minus on the report card, which gives colleges and universities a grade based on nine equally weighted categories.

Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the most recent report card likely did not take into account some of the recent improvements made to the university, such as Sherley Hall being “gold certified” by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Completed during the summer, the survey did not include information the university submitted in September as part of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a pledge signed by institution presidents to eliminate campus carbon emissions, Donovan said.

The institute probably graded TCU down because of its policy of not releasing information about its endowment, Donovan said.

“Our endowment is none of their business,” Donovan said. “They want to make it their business, but I really don’t see what (the endowment) has to do with our sustainability.”

Cameron Bruns, communications fellow for the Sustainable Endowments Institute, contended that the university’s endowment transparency mattered so that students and alumni could check where money goes.

“(TCU has) over a billion dollars in (its) endowment,” Bruns said. “We feel it’s important that the students and alumni know what that endowment is being invested in because it could be invested in unsustainable or not environmentally friendly companies and businesses.”

Bruns said although the Sustainable Endowments Institute did grade the university down for its lack of transparency, a grade of C-minus was not bad considering only 26 of the 332 colleges and universities surveyed received a grade in the A-range. All 26 received an A-minus.

Donovan said the university started reducing its carbon dioxide emissions years ago by improving its energy and chiller plants to improve cost efficiency, but such facts tend to go unnoticed.

“TCU was doing green stuff before it was cool to do green stuff and that’s because our grounds staff was being efficient,” he said. “I don’t think those things rise very far in the public consciousness. To coin a phrase: they’re not ‘sexy.'”

Co-president of the TCU Environmental Club Macy Zander, a senior environmental science and political science major, said that while she is pleased with the steps the university has taken, she would like to see the university promote greater awareness and responsibility throughout the student body.

“TCU recycles behind the scenes, but we don’t really have personal recycling,” Zander said. “I would love to see recycling more wide scale throughout campus where the student actually has to do it. I feel like that would promote better personal responsibility for the future when it comes to living green and sustainably rather than throwing everything away.”

Zander said the Environmental Club would continue to try to increase awareness around campus.


Administration: D

Climate Change & Energy: D

Food & Recycling: C

Green Building: C

Student Involvement: D

Transportation: C

Endowment

Transparency: F

Investment Priorities: A

Shareholder

Engagement: D