Campus environmental record earns top score in Princeton Review "Green Ratings"

Original wartime poster

Original wartime poster

Organic salad bars in campus dining facilities, like this one at Crossroads, are one of many environmentally friendly actions taken by UC Berkeley. (Steve McConnell/UC Berkeley photo)

BERKELEY — The University of California, Berkeley, is one of only 15 colleges in the country to have earned the top score for environmentally friendly policies in an evaluation released today (Monday, July 27) by The Princeton Review, a provider of education services to help students get into college.

The Princeton Review’s second annual "Green Ratings" includes scores for 697 colleges and universities that are based upon whether students have a healthy and sustainable campus quality of life, how well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges, and the school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.

UC Berkeley has taken global warming and environmental protection seriously, establishing new energy-related research centers and setting new requirements for campus conservation, with students directly involved in the process. (3:00 Flash video, produced by Roxanne Makasdjian)

Institutions were judged on measures ranging from energy use, recycling, food, buildings and transportation, to academic offerings, such as the availability of environmental studies degrees and courses. Schools also needed to report on action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions. Scores, based on data for the 2008-2009 academic year, ranged from 60 to a maximum of 99. UC Berkeley, which earned a score of 99, was the only university in California named to the Green Honor Roll.

"We appreciate this latest recognition of UC Berkeley’s deep commitment to a greener campus - and a greener world," said Vice Chancellor for Administration Nathan Brostrom. "Our collective action toward sustainability is a result of leadership shown from every corner of campus. Years of work and creativity have brought sustainable change and progress at UC Berkeley, and we aren’t done yet."

Illustrating UC Berkeley’s leadership among universities in climate action planning was the announcement in 2007 by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau that the campus had committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014, six years earlier than required by the state of California.

In 2006, Cal Dining, UC Berkeley’s primary food service operator, was the first in the country to receive organic certification, and organic salad bars are now a staple at campus dining facilities. Last year, the Haste Street Child Development Center on campus received a coveted silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation. It was the first freestanding LEED-silver certified child care center in the state. And this past June, Lisa Bauer, UC Berkeley’s manager of Campus Recycling and Refuse Services, was honored as the University of California 2009 Sustainability Champion .

The "Watch Us Go Green" posters were created by two students — energy and water outreach intern Marshall Geck ’09, and graphic designer Chad Kunert, now a senior — in collaboration with Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability. The creators updated World War I- and II-era government posters — adding Cal imagery, contemporary visual details, and a list of conservation tips, from "turn off your lights" to "drink tap water instead of bottled water."

Campuswide, there are more than 80 academic degrees, 90 research centers and 25 student-run organizations with an environmental focus. "Our student-initiated classes include creative topics such as ’The Joy of Garbage,’ while student projects have reduced energy consumption on campus by at least 8.5 million kilowatt hours and water usage by 3 million gallons," said Lisa McNeilly, who joined the campus in January 2008 as its first director of sustainability.

"The ’green’ movement on college campuses is far more than an Earth Day recycling project. It is growing tremendously among students and administrators alike," said Robert Franek, vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, in a press statement.

Franek added that students are increasingly interested in attending colleges that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices. "We are pleased to play a role in helping students who care deeply about these issues identify, get into and study at these schools," he said.