Butler scores a C- on green report card

Congratulations Butler University. You earned a C-.

On Oct. 27, the Sustainable Endowments Institute released the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card on their website, greenreportcard.org.

According to the website, this is the only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities that focuses on ecology, rather than academics, in the United States and Canada.

“The Report Card is designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example on sustainability. The aim is to provide accessible information for schools to learn from each other’s experiences and establish more effective sustainability policies,” the website said.

The 2011 College Sustainability Report Card covers colleges and universities with the 300 largest endowments as well as 22 other schools that applied for the evaluation.

The evaluation is focused around nine major categories— administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.

Of the 11 Indiana colleges and universities participating in this year’s report card, Butler ranks ninth—just above Wabash College and Purdue University North Central.

According to greenreportcard.org, Butler also received a C for the 2010 school year.

However, there were differences in individual categories over the two reports. For instance, the “Green Building” category was raised from a D to a B, while the “Administration” and “Food & Recycling” categories both dropped a letter grade.

The “Student Involvement” section was awarded a B, with much credit going towards the programming of Butler’s Environmental Concerns Organization.

The report card stated, “The Environmental Concerns Organization worked on a number of sustainability initiatives, including “Earth Week” programming, an end-of-year donation program, river cleanups and promoting sustainability in the dining halls.

Students participate in the RecycleMania competition each year with the goal of waste reduction and recycling awareness.

Butler offers eight student jobs related to sustainability.

Senior ECO President Rebecca Taylor said the organization was pleased with the grade, although they realize there are areas for improvement.

“We’re pretty happy with a B of course, but our target is always an A,” Taylor said. “Considering the amount of students involved, it really just shows how much the students want to make changes and are working towards implementing those changes.

“We still have a long way to go to achieve that A.”

Taylor said ECO tries to focus on one or two major issues and determine feasible solutions each year in order to create a more environmentally-friendly campus and raise student’s awareness.

“Our goal this year is to focus on the ‘reduce’ part of reuse, reduce, recycle,” Taylor said. “Students, community members and Americans use way too many things and all of those things get wasted, whether its clothes, paper or plastic. We wouldn’t have to recycle these things and go through all of the energy to do it if we just used less commodities.”

Taylor said the way to see overall improvement on the annual report card is to make sure the entire campus is working together and gives precedence towards a common goal.

“ECO is doing everything we can to promote sustainability on campus. We need the support of SGA, other student organizations and everyone on campus who wants to be involved,” Taylor said. “If we want to make these drastic changes and really make Butler an environmentally friendly community, we have to make it our priority.”

Butler’s administration, on the other hand, was awarded a D for the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card, though it is noted on the report card that the university did not respond to any of the three administration surveys and all data was complied by individual research from the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

In reference to the administration score, Taylor said the administration needed to be more proactive towards committing to being a green university.

She said the cost-saving aspects should make green initiatives more attractive for Butler faculty, students and administration.

“The administration is all about marketing butler as a green-minded campus,” Taylor said, “but when it comes down to it, they aren’t making as many steps as they could be. They need to carry out all of the things they are talking about implementing.”