UC Berkeley Receives Grade of B in Sustainability Evaluation

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In a national study of campus sustainability released yesterday, UC Berkeley received a B on its "green" report card.

Compiled by the independent non-profit organization Sustainable Endowments Institute, the evaluation revealed that the UC Berkeley campus has a high-ranking sustainability program. Yet the campus lost points in the endowment sustainability section, receiving a D and a F in two of the three categories.

"It kind of surprises me," freshman Armand Cuevas said. "I'd think Berkeley, as the top public university, would have at least an A."

UC Berkeley scored a D average for the categories that comprise the

endowment sustainability section, which scores the campus's efforts to influence associated organizations to be more environmentally friendly.

The overall grade was given based on nine categories that each received A through F marks. These nine scores were weighted equally and then averaged to determine the final grade.

UC Berkeley received A's for its administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, student involvement and eco-friendly transportation efforts.

Out of 300 schools evaluated, only 42 other campuses, including UC Davis and UC San Diego, joined UC Berkeley on the list of campus sustainability leaders.

"We recognize Berkeley as a campus sustainability leader," said Mark Orlowski, founder and executive director for the institute. "There is room for improvement on the endowment side of sustainability."

While the category for community involvement scored favorably, the endowment transparency and shareholder engagement categories respectively received failing grades.

The institute argues that without student, faculty and administrative input, colleges cannot promote sustainability with the companies that have benefitted from their investments. UC Berkeley does not currently involve campus members in these decisions.

As a result of these low scores, UC Berkeley was kept from the top list of Overall College Sustainability Leaders, an honor given to only 15 colleges, including Stanford University. The 15 campuses gained the distinction by having a total average of at least A-.

"These things can be very useful tools," said UC Berkeley Director of Sustainability Lisa McNeilly in response to the grades. However, she said the grades are not the only evaluators of national sustainability.

McNeilly keeps her eye on multiple rankings in addition to pursuing specific goals such as reducing campus carbon emissions.

"We still have other steps that have to be taken," she said. "What really matters most is where we end up in the future."


Contact Leslie Toy at [email protected]

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