GW makes Sierra Club’s list of top 25 most sustainable schools

The University’s sustainability score has skyrocketed in the last five years, after it was named one of the nation’s least sustainable institutions in 2008. Hatchet File Photo.

GW broke into the nation’s top 25 most environmentally friendly colleges Wednesday, five years after its sustainability efforts earned a failing grade.

The Sierra Club, a top environmental nonprofit, ranked the University No. 23 on its annual list, up three spots from last year and 53 spots from 2009.

GW earned perfect scores for its use of innovation and for drawing out sustainability plans, while it scored low in purchases, investments and renewable energy use.

The University of Connecticut topped the list, up from No. 49 three years ago.

The University has intensely worked to lessen its environmental footprint in Foggy Bottom after it was deemed one of the least eco-friendly schools in 2008.

Over the last year, the Office of Sustainability committed to an ambitious plan that outlined goals such as becoming a zero-waste college and expanding farming to sell more GW-grown food in dining halls. Most initiatives, ranging from waste reduction to spiritual and body health, have targets of 2020.

The plan is the most comprehensive green initiative under University President Knapp.

Knapp, who lived on a farm in Sparks, Md. before arriving at GW in 2007, has prioritized green initiatives. His sustainability task force, formed months after his tenure began, turned into the Office of Sustainability in 2009.

The University invested $5.3 million in sustainable building upgrades last year, part of an effort to modernize every building on campus. The second phase began this summer.

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