The grades are in. And UNCG rose nearly two letter grades, in the College Sustainability Report Card 2011.
It rated 322 institutions in the United States and Canada, and named UNCG a Campus Sustainability Leader. Overall, the university received a grade of B, up from a D+ last year.
The leadership designation is based on performance in six of the report card’s nine categories – administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, and transportation. The Report Card identifies 120 Campus Sustainability Leaders, including only two others in North Carolina – Duke and UNC Chapel Hill.
“Our progress in sustainability is a tribute to the hard work of students, faculty and staff across campus,” said Chancellor Linda P. Brady. “We’re proud of the strides we’ve made, and we are committed to further improvement.”
The Report Card highlights many of UNCG’s recent sustainability initiatives and achievements:
- Sustainability is one of UNCG’s five core values.
- UNCG has created an Office of Sustainability and has hired a sustainability coordinator, Richard “Trey” McDonald, and a sustainability education and outreach coordinator, Jessica Trotman.
- The university is creating an organic campus garden at 123 McIver St. UNCGreensboro Gardens, a group affiliated with the campus Sustainability Committee, has built dozens of raised beds, each 4’x8’ and framed with boards salvaged from an old barn. WFMY News 2 reported on the project.
- Even while adding new buildings, the university has reduced annual energy consumption from 623 million to 577 million MBTUs (thousand British thermal units) since 2005. In 2007, UNCG became the first university in the UNC system to sign an energy performance contract, an agreement that paid for energy-efficiency upgrades to five buildings with future savings. Individual building electricity metering was installed during summer 2010, and an online dashboard will soon allow constant monitoring of energy and water use.
- Students are volunteering as vampire energy “slayers,” working their way through academic buildings and bringing attention to electronic equipment that consumes energy even when off or in standby mode. Seventeen students have participated, and more than a dozen have signed up for future events.
- The number of people on campus has grown, but water usage has dropped from 176 million to 172 million gallons since 2005. Trayless dining reduces water usage and food waste. Low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets have been installed in some residence halls. Where possible, landscaping is designed to minimize the need for watering.
- Construction is under way on two buildings, a School of Education building and a residence hall, designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver standards. The university plans to renovate the seven Quad residence halls and the Dining Hall to meet LEED Silver criteria during the next three years. In the past year, 92 percent of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfills.
- Each year, the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling collects and sells the clothes, books, decorations and other items students leave behind when they leave their dorm rooms. The latest edition of the Cram & Scram Yard Sale in June raised more than $1,100 to support environmental learning opportunities for students and, best of all, kept more than six tons of material out of the landfill.
- Since 2005, the amount of waste generated annually on campus (garbage, recycling and compost) has dropped from about 10,800 tons to 10,300 tons. Roughly 38 percent of that waste is recycled rather than sent to a landfill.
- Zipcar, Zimride, Spartan Cycles and several bus services provide transportation alternatives. Two of the four Zipcars available on campus for short-term rental are hybrids. Zimride is a free rideshare matching network that helps connect drivers and riders interested in carpooling. Spartan Cycles allows students and employees to check out six bicycles provided by the non-profit bike advocacy group Bicycling in Greensboro with support from UNCG Police. Spartan Chariot buses operate on a campus loop seven days a week. Greensboro Transit Authority and HEAT buses provide free transportation to off-campus locations.
- The university’s 159-vehicle motor pool includes 17 electric vehicles, 16 that use biofuel and 15 that use ethanol.
- The Report Card is produced by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a nonprofit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. Founded in 2005, the institute is based in Cambridge, Mass.
Visual: A campus Earth Day information fair.
By Dan Nonte
Photograph by Becky Kates