College Sustainability Report Card names Luther one of 26 top colleges and universities in nation

Oct. 9, 2009

Luther College has been recognized as one of the nation’s top colleges and universities in sustainability initiatives on the College Sustainability Report Card 2010, issued by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

Luther was one of 26 institutions that achieved an overall grade of “A-“ or better across all categories and won recognition as Overall College Sustainability Leaders. Three hundred thirty-two colleges and universities participated in the sustainability evaluation.

In addition to Luther, schools in the sustainability leaders list include Harvard University, Yale University and Stanford University. Other colleges and universities in the Upper Midwest on the list include Carleton College, Macalester College and the University of Minnesota.

Luther College and Pacific Lutheran University are the only two schools affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that achieved the sustainability leaders designation.

The list of the top 26 schools can be found at www.greenreportcard.org.

 “We are pleased that Luther has earned recognition as one of the nation’s top institutions in sustainability commitment, initiatives and involvement,” said Luther President Richard Torgerson. “We are honored to be among the leaders in planning and developing a new culture of environmental stewardship for our nation’s college campuses.

“Since 2007, when we included sustainability in Luther’s strategic plan, we have made it an integral part of the college’s planning, decision-making process, and day-to-day operations,” President Torgerson said. “That mindset is important to achieving our goal of leaving a smaller footprint on our campus environment, but it is far more important that we serve as a model for our communities and inspire a life-long sustainability ethic in every Luther student.”

Luther received an overall grade of “A-“ in the 2010 sustainability report card. The report card awarded Luther grades of “A” in administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, transportation, and investment priorities. Luther was given “B” grades in the categories of green building and student involvement.

Released Oct. 7, the College Sustainability Report Card was featured in a front-page article in the New York Times.

The 332 institutions from the United States and Canada that participated in the sustainability report card program for 2010 submitted detailed data for evaluation and grading in nine categories: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities, and shareholder engagement.

Climate change and energy evaluates energy efficiency, conservation, commitment to emissions reductions, and use of renewable energy on campus.

Food and recycling evaluates dining services policies, including recycling and composting programs.

Green building recognizes campuswide green building guidelines and green building design for new and existing buildings.

Student involvement looks at student participation in sustainability initiatives and support for these activities by school administrators.

Transportation focuses on alternative transportation for students, faculty, and staff, as well as alternative fuel or hybrid technology for campus fleets.

Endowment transparency addresses accessibility to endowment investment information and shareholder proxy voting records.

Investment priorities considers prioritization of return on investment, investment in renewable energy funds, and investment in community development loan funds.

Shareholder engagement looks at shareholder proxy voting practices, including opportunities for student, faculty, and alumni participation.

Each school evaluated was awarded points representing its level of activity in each of several indicators within the nine categories. When appropriate, school size and geographic setting were taken into consideration. For some indicators, extra credit points were awarded to recognize highly innovative efforts.

A more detailed explanation of the evaluation is available at www.greenreportcard.org/report-card-2010/methodology.

The College Sustainability Report Card is the only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. In contrast to the academic focus on sustainability in research and teaching, the report card examines colleges and universities, as institutions, through the lens of sustainability.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute states that sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 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.

Photo caption: Luther College’s Baker Village student housing complex and the college’s Anderson Prairie restored native grass prairie (foreground) are among the environmentally friendly features on the Luther campus in Decorah, Iowa. (Luther College photo by Aaron Lurth)