USD Makes the Grade in Sustainability

The fall semester’s not over but the University of San Diego has already received a solid B+ in the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) College Sustainability Report Card for 2011 which was released Wednesday morning.

USD’s overall grade of B+ jumped a full grade from last year’s grade of C+. This year USD received four A’s in administration, food and recycling, green building, and investment priorities.

“Our administration is committed to being one of the most sustainable campuses in the nation and this solid grade of B+ shows we are well on our way toward meeting that goal,” said Michael Catanzaro, USD’s director of sustainability. is the only independent evaluation of sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. Assessing each institution in nine categories, ranging from Climate Change & Energy to Green Building to Investment Priorities, the Report Card provides detailed school profiles and grades for 322 colleges and universities, representing all 50 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces.

Highlights of USD’s grade include:

  • All new buildings will be LEED Silver certified at a minimum, and USD currently has 11 buildings that meet LEED standards.
  • Since 2005, the university has achieved a 28 percent reduction in per capita water consumption. To manage stormwater, the university has installed vegetated roofs and porous pavement.
  • The university sources 13 percent of its food locally, including herbs grown from an on-campus garden. An additional 13 percent of the food budget is spent on organic items. Only cage-free eggs are served, and most meals have vegan options. A high-tech food digester transforms 3,200 pounds of food waste into water each week.
  • Since 2008, the university has seen a 3 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. USD is currently working on an $8.2 million efficiency project with an outside contractor to further reduce energy usage and carbon emissions. The university has installed a 1.2-megawatt photovoltaic system on campus and uses an energy management system to monitor energy use.
  • All coffee served is fair trade, and discounts are offered for using reusable mugs. The school hosts a semiannual office materials exchange and collects electronics for recycling.
  • The University of San Diego is committed to sustainability through a formal policy and plan. The sustainability committee works to develop policies and educates the school community about environmental and conservation efforts on campus. A full-time director heads up the sustainability office. All new appliances purchased by the university are Energy Star certified.

Next month, USD  will officially dedicate its new solar power system, the second largest on a private university campus. The new system will  generate up to 15 percent of USD’s power needs. This fall, USD also was awarded a major National Science Foundation grant of nearly $1 million to develop innovative communication and education strategies to advance climate science literacy.

USD also is ranked 103rd on the “Cool Schools” by the Sierra Club.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.