University improves green ranking

A top national environmental organization no longer considers GW as one of the least eco-friendly schools in the nation, according to the group’s annual rankings, which were released last week.

GW climbed to the 81st spot – out of 135 schools ranked – after being named one of the five least sustainable schools in the U.S. last year by the Sierra Club.

University President Steven Knapp said while he is pleased with the rise in the rankings, he believed the University should have scored higher.

“We believe the ranking could have been higher, and certainly expect that it will be in the future as our efforts continue to go forward,” Knapp said in an e-mail. “I think we have made tremendous progress since I launched the Sustainability Task Force two years ago, but there is more to be done.”

Meghan Chapple-Brown, director of the Office of Sustainability, said that though Sierra Club does not disclose the methodology behind their rankings, she assumes GW’s rise in the rankings comes from the addition of green spaces around campus, like the green roof on the 1957 E St. building, as well as the green courtyard in the new South Hall residence hall.

More sustainable projects are also on tap for the Office of Sustainability, Chapple-Brown said, including the debut of an organic vegetable garden across from Philip Amsterdam Hall, and the creation of a climate action plan. Knapp is required by the University Presidents Climate Commitment, which he signed on Earth Day in 2008, to release a plan that will eventually make GW carbon-neutral.

“Over the next year we’ll be working on a climate action plan. It’s a process where we are working with students, faculty and staff to find out how to become carbon neutral,” Chapple-Brown said. “A lot of universities are trying to figure out what technologies to institute and behavioral changes we can make to achieve the goal.”

Knapp said he is pleased with the strides the University has taken to become a more eco-friendly environment.

“It’s great to see how passionately our students are driving these issues,” Knapp said. “And I have been very pleased by the way the deans have been launching new programs and hiring new faculty in response to this key university priority.”

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