By Rex Graham
UC San Diego has been rated once again as one of the country’s most environmentally responsible universities, this time by The Princeton Review.
The education services company selected UC San Diego for inclusion in the Princeton Review’s “Guide to 286 Green Colleges,” a resource for college applicants.
In 2009, the Princeton Review published Green Rating scores for 697 schools, and of those schools, the 286 schools in the current guide, including UC San Diego, received scores in the 80th or higher percentile. The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in the guide hierarchically (1 to 286).
“Sustainability is becoming integrated into the life and education of every student at UC San Diego and that is also reflected in all of our operations, from the way we commute to campus to our emphasis on sustainable operations, energy efficiency and recycling,” said Gary C. Matthews Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning at UC San Diego. “This most recent recognition by the Princeton Review is as much recognition of our operational accomplishments as it is an indication of the personal goals of our faculty collaborators and students who will have graduated and will graduate from this very green institution of higher education.”
UCSD has earned many excellent national rankings for its sustainability accomplishments. For example, the 2010 Sustainable Endowments Institute’s “Report Card,” which was based on nine operational categories, cited UC San Diego as one of 26 campuses nationwide graded A- (the highest mark awarded), highlighting the university’s energy conservation efforts, food and recycling, green buildings, student involvement, transportation and other accomplishments.
Sustainability is increasingly important to most UC San Diego students, many of whom this week are celebrating some of their accomplishments as part of Earth Week festivities on campus. A schedule of those activities is available at http://earthweek.ucsd.edu
For the 2009-2010 academic year, sharply higher numbers of UC San Diego undergraduates opted for majors and minors, classes, internships and research projects that emphasize environmental sustainability.
Developed by The Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, the “Guide to 286 Green Colleges” is focused solely on institutions of higher education that have demonstrated an above-average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.
The Princeton Review rating took into consideration schools’ commitment to building certification using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) green building certification program; environmental literacy programs; formal sustainability committees; use of renewable energy resources; recycling and conservation programs, and more.
UC San Diego recently celebrated its first LEED “Gold” certification in recognition of the remodeling of the Mesa Child Development Center. The certification recognized the remodeling of the center, which incorporated lumber cut from sustainable forests, heat-reflecting windows that lower air-conditioning costs, irrigation sprinklers that conserve water and many other sustainable-building features.
UC San Diego is committed to sustainability in all renovations and new construction projects, as well as in the operation and maintenance of existing campus buildings. LEED certification is based on a point system for energy efficiency features, use of renewable and recyclable materials in construction and furnishings, low water usage and other features.
Nine buildings currently under construction or still in the design phase are expected to receive LEED “Silver” certification or better. Eleven additional campus buildings that have been completed or are under construction have achieved or are in the process of achieving Certified or Silver ratings through a University of California program that has criteria similar to LEED certification.
The campus is also pursuing LEED certification for three renovation projects currently under way and is “greening” the operation and maintenance of three other existing campus buildings through the “LEED for Existing Buildings” program.
UC San Diego students and their parents, like those of other colleges and universities, are increasingly interested in schools that practice what they teach in terms of sustainability. “According to our recent College Hope & Worries Survey, 64 percent of college applicants and their parents said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend it,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review.