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Seattle University

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Ever Greener

Written by Mike Thee
April 26, 2011

Seattle University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com). The education services company selected SU for inclusion in the just-released second annual edition of its free downloadable book, The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition. 

SU received a score of 94 (on a scale of 60-99), which is the highest score that any Jesuit institution received as well as the highest among independent institutions in Washington state.  

In announcing the guide, The Princeton Review noted that an institution’s record on sustainability is becoming a more important factor for high school students looking at colleges. “College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president of Publishing at The Princeton Review. “Among 8,200 college applicants who participated in our spring 2011 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,’ nearly seven out of 10 (69%) said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school,” he added. 

For SU, inclusion in the guide extends the university’s strong record of sustainability. The university has earned 18 awards for eco-friendly operations, established itself as a model for sustainable landscaping and waste management, and when the Fitness Center is completed, SU will have four LEED Gold buildings with our Admissions & Alumni building, Law School Annex and McGoldrick Learning Commons. Sustainability is also increasingly being integrated into the university’s curricular and co-curricular programs. 

In a letter students, faculty and staff last week, President Sundborg, S.J., urged the university community to deepen its commitment to sustainability and announced the formation of the President’s Committee for Sustainability to fulfill the university’s commitment as a signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Specifically, as the president outlined, the university has pledged to increase sustainable practices in its operations to reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions 12 percent by 2020, and 51 percent by 2035; expand sustainability and climate change in our curricular and co-curricular programs so that our students are prepared to lead in building a more just, humane and sustainable world; and share our increasing knowledge and expertise on sustainability more widely through partnerships and community engagement.

“As a Jesuit Catholic institution, we draw inexhaustible inspiration from the beauty of creation; it is precisely this reverence that compels us in a special way to respond to climate change, which many consider the greatest challenge of our time,” Sundborg wrote. 

The Princeton Review’s guide to green colleges was created in 2010 with the U.S. Green Building Council, which is best known for developing the LEED standard for green building certification. This past fall, USGBC launched its Center for Green Schools (www.centerforgreenschools.org) to increase its efforts to drive change in how campuses and schools are designed, constructed and operated so that all educational facilities can enhance student learning experiences.