University of the Pacific Receives B+ for Sustainability
Today, the Sustainable Endowments Institute graded Pacific at a B+ in its fifth annual College Sustainability Report Card. This is a significant rise in Pacific's grade from just two years ago, reflecting significant policy changes and the introduction of new programs designed to lower the University's carbon footprint.
The report graded 322 colleges and Universities throughout the United States and only gave 52 of those schools a grade of A- or better. Only six California schools received a higher grade than Pacific.
"We are glad that Pacific is being recognized for the work it has done to become more sustainable," said Jaiya Ellis, the sustainability coordinator for all three of Pacific's campuses. "However, we know our work isn't done. We have a lot more to do and hope to one day be recognized as one of the greenest universities on the West Coast."
The report provides the overall grade and then grades institutions in nine subcategories. Pacific received grades of "A" in five of the subcategories: Student Involvement, Green Building, Food & Recycling, Investment Priorities ands Endowment Transparency.
Pacific students have been involved with sustainable activities for many years. The Students for Environmental Action were instrumental in starting a recycling program on the Stockton campus in the 1990s. For the past three years students have had the option to live in the Residence for Earth & Environmental Living and Learning and all entering students on the Stockton campus are introduced to sustainability concepts during the Mountain, Ocean, Valley Experience before they begin classes at Pacific.
In October of 2009, the University's Board of Regents passed a "Green Building Resolution" that requires all new buildings and any major renovations of existing buildings to meet LEED Silver standards. In 2008, before the Board passed the resolution, the University opened the Don and Karen DeRosa University Center, the first LEED certified building in San Joaquin County and this year the University opened the John Chambers Technology Center, which was designed to meet LEED Gold standards and will be the first building on campus to have solar panels. It is expected to be certified in the next year.
LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The program was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. LEED-certified projects usually cost less to operate and maintain than conventional buildings largely because they are energy- and water- efficient. On average, they save 30 percent on energy and up to 50 percent on drinkable water compared to conventional buildings.
Other work also has occurred at Pacific. The Pacific McGeorge School of Law started a community garden in the spring and plans are underway to start a similar project on the Stockton campus. Pacific has expanded its student recycling program and is currently placing recycling bins in every residential room. For many years the University has been upgrading heating and cooling systems and replacing lighting with more energy-efficient products. Earlier this year, Pacific's maintenance department began converting its electric work carts to solar to reduce the frequency of recharging them.
Pacific's full report card, including its answers to the Sustainable Endowment Institute's survey, can be found online at http://www.greenreportcard.org/report-card-2011/schools/university-of-the-pacific.