Green Report Card profiles Wooster

Three hundred and thirty two schools throughout the United States and Canada have currently received report cards outside of the academic realm. The College Sustainability Report Card, Green Report Card for short, is the only exclusive evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities on college and university campuses. According to the report, Wooster needs to make significant improvements.

The Report Card, which is in its fourth year, is a yearly assessment aimed at identifying colleges and universities that have been leading by example on sustainability. Designed to provide accessible information for all schools to learn from, and promote shared learning about the operations and sustainability practices, the Report Card has the highest response rate of any college ranking on sustainability. The Green Report Card is published through the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a Cambridge-based, non-profit project since 2005 which arose from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

The schools covered in this annual report feature 300 schools with the largest endowments in the United States and Canada and also includes 32 schools that applied for inclusion in the program. One hundred and ninety one of the institutions are private whereas 141 are public, totaling a range of students of 4.2 million.

For the 2010 Sustainability Report Card, The College of Wooster, which is one of the schools profiled, received a grade of ìC” which was a much needed improvement to last yearís grade of a ìD.” The grades that schools receive on the Report Card are determined by performance assessments conducted by members of the Sustainability Institute.†† For this yearís report, data collection began this past June and continued through September.

The assessments are divided into nine categories ó Administration, Climate Change and Energy, Food/Recycling, Green Building, Student Involvement, Transportation, Endowment, Investment Priorities and Shareholder Engagement. First, any public documentation or information regarding the profiled instituitons are collected and can include things like any groups on campus working towards sustainability or even something as simple as the number of students. Then, four different surveys, a campus, dining, endowment and student, are sent out to the schools in hopes of obtaining more specific information.

Only 14 schools in total this year declined to participate in all four surveys and the overall response in all four categories ranged from 75 to 91 percent. Numerical points are then awarded to each school in their response to the 120 questions asked across 48 different indicators from the nine general categories. To receive the highest overall grade of an ìA,” one must meet at least 70 percent of the general categories.

Though the College received an overall grade of ìC,” we did score a higher range of grades in the different categories. In the category of Food/Recycling, we received an ìA,” thanks in large part to our trayless cafeteria and reusable mug program. We also received a ìB” in the Student Involvement category due to two main student run organizations, Green House and the Organic Farming group.

Ginny Kincaid, í10, a member of the Organic Farmers recalls that the program began in 2003 in response to studentís interest in organic farming. ìWe started the program with the intent of connecting students with local farms where they could work and learn about sustainable practices first hand,” Kincaid said. Students volunteer on a weekly basis through interest received by listserv emails and commonly work at Muddy Fork Farm and Autumn Harvests Farm. Kincaid, who received an e-mail this past summer regarding sustainability programs on campus from the Green Report Card, said ìObviously, the grade [C] means there is a lot of room for improvement,” but also adds that ìSome [sustainability] efforts going on right now include adding more visible recycling bins around campus.”

One of the brand new features of the Green Report Card is an all access, online portal to over 1,100 survey responses from the profiled schools. Kincaid, who has expressed interest in seeing the different grades that colleges and universities have received, will be able, along with anyone interested, to view and even compare all the different schools and the overall grades. With over 10,000 pages of data and descriptions, the Sustainability Endowments Institute has high hopes for this new online accessibility. On the Web site, greenreportcard.org, individuals can explore schools by geographic region on an interactive map which provides a direct link to that schoolís full profile.

With many campuses, including Wooster, making the efforts to ìGo Green” and increase sustainability efforts, the Green Report Card is currently a major factor in allowing for shared learning throughout hundreds of college campuses and universities. For more information, visit their Web site, www.greenreportcard.org.