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Georgetown Moves Up, Sustainably

October 7, 2009

My alma mater* Georgetown University has improved on its sustainability grade from last year. The report, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, rates colleges on their sustainability efforts and this year gave Georgetown a B (I think we got a B- last year). We got A’s and B’s on almost every measure, including A’s in Climate Change & Energy as well Investment Priorities. We didn’t do so well on transportation (C) and endowment transparency (D). Overall, kudos to us Hoyas for this:

The university achieved more than a 12 percent drop in carbon emissions between 2006 and 2008.

In terms of transportation, many would agree that were not exactly top-of-the-line, considering that they’ve made GUTS even worse (haven’t they?). But I think the most glaring deficiency in Georgetown’s transportation relative to sustainability is outside of our administration’s control: the lack of a Metro stop in the Georgetown neighborhood combined with Georgetown’s urban. The main reason that everybody who comes to Georgetown has to use GUTS or drive is that they can’t take the Metro. Not having a Metro stop isn’t in and of itself a deal-killer – there isn’t a Metro stop within miles of Stanford University and they earned an A – but the fact that our buses have to deal with urban traffic make greening our campus transportation an uphill climb (think Canal Street to Reservoir).

Endowment transparency is tough and not necessarily directly related to sustainability. A school could have horrible endowment transparency and still do great in terms of promoting sustainability. It’s more of a meta-criteria, once removed from actual sustainability. While I do think endowment transparency is important, I don’t know if I would include it in these ratings.

Also, Syracuse, Pitt and GW all got equal or worse than us. Ivy Leagues and many other top-tier schools mostly did better but, considering their endowments are for the most part ten times larger, I’m OK with that.

*I have two problems with this phrase: first, it’s mildly pretentious; second, I try not to the about the fact that I don’t go there anymore.

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