University Makes Grade for Growing Greener
The Husky black and red is getting a touch of green. Northeastern’s grade from the College Sustainability Report Card, which tracks environmentally friendly practices and policies on U.S. and Canadian campuses, improved dramatically over the past year, up to B from C-, according to the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The university was one of five institutions singled out for demonstrating the greatest year-to-year improvement, along with such schools as the University of Southern California and Notre Dame.
“Northeastern has done an excellent job in many areas—capitalizing on opportunities to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, improving on energy efficiency, recycling of materials, etc.,” said JackMcCarthy, the university’s senior vice president for administration and finance. The higher grade “provide tangible evidence of the progress President (Joseph) Aoun and Northeasternmade when he signed the American College andUniversity Presidents Climate Commitment as a charter member in the spring.”
That compact committed universities to cutting global-warming emissions and “integrating sustainability into their curriculum” to “better serve their students and meet their social mandate to help create a thriving, ethical and civil society.” At the time, Aoun promised to “accelerate the greening of all of our facilities, in Boston and elsewhere.”
The Report Card gave Northeastern an A for “climate change and energy,” “green building,” “investment priorities” and transportation, noting that the university uses 22 electric vehicles on campus along with ultra-low-sulfur biodiesel.
While Northeastern is “always looking for more ways to improve,” McCarthy praised the university’s facilities department. “Dan Bourque and his team should be justifiably proud of the recognition,” he said. For his part, Bourque, the university’s vice president for facilities, called the progress “a team effort.
“From the president’s office that signed onto the initiative to the facilities groups who have pushed conservation and recycling, from the purchasing department that’s buying Energy Start appliances and green products, the food service group that’s purchasing local vegetables, the students from Husky Energy Action Team who are trying to bring awareness to our students and the faculty who are bringing this issue forward in the academic setting, sustainability is a campus-wide priority,” he said.
More than a onetime project, going green “has to become a way of life,” Bourque said. “Doing the simple things—turning off lights when they’re not needed, reducing water consumption, closing windows and doors in the heating season, adjusting thermostats appropriately—all have an impact on our consumption of natural resources.