November 3, 2010–Efforts to make the University of Utah more environmentally sustainable received an above-average grade from the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI), an independent nonprofit organization that researches and promotes sustainability efforts on U.S. college campuses. In its 2011 report card just released, the institute gave the U a B+ for its many green programs and future planning. That’s an improvement from the 2010 report card, in which the U received a B grade.
Over the past year alone, the University of Utah released its 2010 Climate Action Plan; the Frederick Albert Sutton Building was awarded LEED Gold certification for its environmentally friendly design; and the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund allowed students to create projects such as demonstration rain gardens, expanded food gardens and energy conservation outreach programs.
Within the PAC 12, the University of Utah received the same grade as Oregon and Oregon State and ranks ahead of other schools.
Since 2008, which is the first year that the university was ranked by the SEI, the University of Utah has made substantial progress in the energy conservation, efficiency, green building, administration and student involvement categories.
Even before then, the U has been committed to reducing its carbon footprint. In 2005, students led a campaign to purchase renewable energy credits that now cover more than 20 percent of total electricity use. The campus Office of Sustainability was established in 2007 and helps promote environmental and economic stewardship, protection of human health and social responsibility. Greenhouse gas emissions from the U have diminished by more than three percent since 2007. The university’s main dining services provider, Chartwells, spends a significant percentage of its budget on local and organic items, including produce from two student gardens on campus.
In August of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency ranked the University of Utah fourth among colleges and universities nationwide in its Green Power Partners program.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors established the Sustainable Endowments Institute as a special project in 2005. The institute is a nonprofit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. Its annual Green Report Card assesses each institution in nine categories, ranging from green building to investment priorities. The report card provides detailed school profiles and grades for 322 colleges and universities, representing all 50 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces.