Pitt earns ‘C’ on Green Report Card

By Mary Hancock

‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt improved its grade on an environmental report card, earning a ‘C’ this year instead… ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt improved its grade on an environmental report card, earning a ‘C’ this year instead of the ‘C-‘ it received last year and the ‘D’ it got the year before. ‘ ‘ ‘ The College Sustainability Report Card, the organization that dishes out the Green Grades every year, collects data from school administrators and independent sources, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, and it evaluates schools on their efforts to be environmentally friendly. ‘ ‘ ‘ Despite its improvement, Pitt falls behind other universities both within and outside the state. Pennsylvania State University earned a ‘B,’ while Pennsylvania University received an ‘A,’ tying with 15 other schools for the highest grade awarded this year. ‘ ‘ ‘ Still, said Thomas Hudzik, chairman of the Student Government Board environmental committee, the University is showing progress. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘It’s come a long way in two years. Pitt is steadily improving,’ he said.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ The environmental committee, with the support of the Heinz Endowment, meets monthly with administrators and student organizations to promote sustainability projects. The endowment initiated these meetings, called the Sustainability Series, to promote better communication among these groups. ‘ ‘ ‘ The Sustainability Series helped raise Pitt’s grade. New to the report card this year was the ‘Student Involvements’ category. The College Sustainability Report Card judged schools on how well they integrated sustainability into their freshman orientation, the number of paid sustainability internships they offer students and the number of environmental groups they have. ‘ ‘ ‘ The report card decided that student activity on campus was too high to be encompassed under the administration category, where it originally was, said Mike Orlowski, executive director of the College Sustainability Report Card. ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt’s grade also improved this year because the campus shuttle system worked to conserve fuel and the University negotiated a contract with the Port Authority. Both projects make it easier for Pitt students to access mass transportation, which requires less fuel. ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt, however, still has room to improve. ‘ ‘ ‘ Jessica McNally, co-president of Free the Planet, said she believes Pitt can improve its Green Grade if the campus groups communicate more effectively with each other and with administrators. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘If we did not have so much miscommunication on where we stand on recycling and other sustainability efforts, cooperation between heads would improve,’ she said. ‘ ‘ ‘ Free the Planet recently worked with Engineers for a Sustainable World to coordinate Project Lights-Out. People involved with the project compiled data on light waste in many buildings and then suggested ways to reduce energy consumption. ‘ ‘ ‘ Project members placed signs near light switches reminding people to turn them off before they exit. As a result, Benedum Hall reduced 25 percent of all wasteful energy consumption, said Alexander Dale, President of Engineers for a Sustainable World. ‘ ‘ ‘ The Green Report Card’s nine categories of grading include: Administration, Climate Change and Energy, Food and Recycling, Green Building, Student Involvement, Transportation, Endowment Transparency, Investment Priorities and Shareholder Engagement.