W&M scores well on sustainability report card

  • Sustainability at W&MThe College of William and Mary moved up in the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card and received an overall grade of "B."

    Photo by Stephen Salpukas

    Sustainability at W&M

The College of William and Mary moved up in the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card and received an overall grade of "B."

The report card was released by the Sustainable Endowments Institute Oct. 7. No other institution in Virginia received a grade higher than a "B."

William & Mary's current grade is up from the overall "C" it received last year. The improvement highlights the significant changes in sustainability at the College since its debut in the Report Card two years ago, when it received a "D-." A New York Times blogger who wrote about this year's results noted that William & Mary was among the schools that showed the biggest improvement.

"This is a strong affirmation of the W&M community's commitment to sustainability and the work of our volunteers," said Dennis Taylor, co-chair of the William & Mary Committee on Sustainability. "Looking ahead, we are now well positioned to deal with tougher issues like energy use, waste management and reductions in our carbon footprint.  These are complex and demanding problems, but they are the key to long-term sustainability and resource efficiency at the College."

According to its Web site, the College Sustainability Report Card is "designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example in their commitment to sustainability." The institute surveyed 332 colleges for the report.

Along with an overall grade, each college received a "report card" with grades in the categories of administration, climate change & energy, food & recycling, green building, transportation, student involvement, endowment transparency, shareholder engagement and investment priorities.

On the William & Mary's report card, the College received a grade of "A" in the categories of administration, investment priorities and student involvement. The report cites the College's Committee on Sustainability and the new sustainability fellowship for the high mark in the administration category. In the student involvement category, the Student Environmental Action Coalition and student government are noted for their efforts on campus. And under investment priorities, the report card gives a nod to the College's Green Endowment fund.

"This is a wonderful example of the College doing what it does best," stated Phil Zapfel, the College's first Sustainability Fellow. "The Committee on Sustainability is made up of faculty, student and staff volunteers working across disciplines to come up with real-world, tangible solutions to complex issues."

Zapfel helps to oversee the 100-plus volunteers for the Committee on Sustainability, who are working on such varied issues as storm water monitoring, paperless teaching and learning, and local and organic food procurement. He has taken the lead on a few sustainability projects for the year.

"In the near future, I'm hoping to design a sustainable purchasing policy, implement a dining hall food composting program, and assist in a more in-depth analysis of our recent greenhouse gas inventory," Zapfel said.

Lynda Butler, co-chair of the Committee on Sustainability, said that she is very pleased that William & Mary's sustainability efforts are being recognized.

"Two key factors have contributed to our almost meteoric improvement of 2 ½ grades in two years," she said. "The first is the steadfast commitment of the administration - from the Board of Visitors and the President to its vice presidents and senior administrators - to sustainability over that time period. But, without a doubt, the single most important factor has been the student body. The students' drive to impose a green fee on themselves, to create exciting new sustainability initiatives, and to apply their considerable intellectual talents to greening the campus has successfully pushed the College down the path of a more sustainable future."

For more on William & Mary's sustainability efforts, visit http://www.wm.edu/sustainability.

For more on the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card, visit http://www.greenreportcard.org/. For the William & Mary's complete report card, visit http://www.greenreportcard.org/report-card-2010/schools/college-of-william-mary.