College moves up in report on sustainability

By Matthew Stone

The latest College Sustainability Report Card is out, and Macalester is one of thirteen schools that have improved their ratings by a full letter grade or more from the first report card issued last year. Macalester’s overall rating improved to a “B” this year, from its previous grade of “C.”The Sustainable Endowments Institute, based in Cambridge, Mass., issued the ratings and found that while colleges and universities are generally taking on an increasing number of green initiatives on campus, schools lag in applying philosophies of sustainability to their endowment investments.

Macalester earned high marks in the “Food and Recycling” and “Investment Priorities” categories. The institute noted that the college spends about 20 percent of its annual food budget locally, including at the Macalester Urban Land and Community Health Garden and at a local dairy. In the investments category, the report card noted Macalester’s investments in renewable energy investment funds.

Although the report cited efforts to use “sustainable elements” in the construction of the new Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center and efforts by student organizations to use biodiesel in college-owned vans, Macalester earned its lowest markings-letter grades of “C”-in the “Green Building” and “Transportation” categories. The college also received a “C” in the “Endowment Transparency” category.

The Endowments Institute pointed to Carleton, Middlebury and Dartmouth Colleges; Harvard University; and the Universities of Washington and Vermont as “Overall College Sustainability Leaders.” The two colleges that earned “F” ratings were Regent University, a college in Virginia Beach, Va., founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson, and the Baptist Convention-affiliated Samford University, which is located in Birmingham, Ala.

The report card assessed the 200 public and private colleges with endowment values exceeding $230 million. Macalester’s endowment size was $676 million as of June 30.

To see the full report card, including Macalester’s assessment, visit www.endowmentinstitute.org/sustainability .