Despite ‘B’ on Green Report Card, UI Sustainability is Still Improving

In light of the “green effort,” the University has undertaken several initiatives to encourage eco-friendliness and promote sustainability on campus.

Although the University has encouraged green practices through events such as Sustainability Week, the University received a B average on its Green Report Card released Wednesday by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

The institute is a nonprofit organization which works to promote the progress of sustainable measures on university campuses and endowment practices.

Stephanie Lage, assistant to the director in the Office of Sustainability, said the rating is based on various surveys from students, dining services and endowment practices.

“A ‘B’ puts us in the middle among other Big Ten schools,” Lage said.

Lage also said the school “(fails) all the time” in endowment practices because the University is “not very open with endowment funds.”

Though the University is sub-par in endowment transparency, it has already taken many steps in an effort to become more sustainable and produce less waste, such as implementing occupancy sensors and dual-flush toilet systems in buildings and using the Sustainable Student Farm to provide produce for the dining halls.

University organizations, students and private companies showcased their efforts for a more sustainable campus and a greener world at the Sustainability Fair in the Illini Union on Wednesday.

David Guth, a representative from the Illini Union, said the Sustainability Fair was “a group of different organizations in the community and campus promoting sustainable transportation, energy and water consumption.” There are also campus-wide goals the University needs to meet in the next five years, such as reducing steam, chilled water and electricity usage for buildings and increasing recycling containers for users.

Guth also described how the Union itself is making an effort to reduce waste and be greener. Such things as furniture, hotel bedding, flat screen televisions and carpeting are made of recycled materials or are more energy efficient. Even the cleaning supplies are becoming “green,” with the Union utilizing about “95 percent specifically sustainable” products, Guth said.

Michael Litchford, member of the Sustainable Operations Task Force and a coordinator at Campus Recreation, described the numerous efforts their facilities are taking to become greener and reduce costs. Litchford said Green Hours at the Activities and Recreation Center, or ARC, from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, “reprogrammed lighting hours and reduced lighting by about 60 percent.” The initiation of Green Hours has also saved Campus Recreation nearly $12,000 a year.

At the ARC, there was a full light retrofit in the indoor pool and racquetball courts, Litchford said. Campus Recreation also reprogrammed exterior, accent and sconce lighting to be on sensors.

Campus Recreation also installed new bathroom fixtures, sensor faucets, dual-flush toilets and pint-flow urinals in the majority of restrooms in their facilities. These new accessories have helped to save $15,845 a year and 6.5 million gallons of water and have reduced water usage by about 22 percent.

Through these many efforts, Lage said the University is “making good progress,” regardless of necessary improvement in areas such as endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.

For further details about the report card, visit greenreportcard.org.

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