UCR named to Princeton Guide’s 332 top green colleges list

Courtesy of the Office of Sustainability
Courtesy of the Office of Sustainability

UCR was once again recognized in the fifth annual Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges for 2014 as one of the top green colleges in North America.

The schools were selected based on a 2013 survey of administrators from hundreds of four-year colleges across the United States and Canada. Data includes the school course offerings, infrastructure, extracurricular activities and career preparation as ways of assessing their commitment to sustainability and the environment.

The survey was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools (USGBC). The guide was released on April 17 and is available online.

According to the Princeton guide, UCR has highlighted nine areas of sustainability: academics, buildings, energy and climate, food, procurement, recycling, waste management, sites, transportation and water. In addition, the campus was given a green rating of 93 points of 99, appearing in the Princeton guide since its inception in 2010.

“UCR is proud to have been included once again in Princeton Review Green College Guide — our fifth year in a row to make it,” UCR Director of Sustainability John Cook told UCR Today. “Next year we will move the needle with 4 megawatts of on-site solar, 16 LEED Certified Buildings and a 3 (percent) reduction in overall potable water use.”

Yassamin Kavezade, fourth-year psychology major and environmental science minor involved with Sustainable UCR, Green Campus Action Plan and the chancellor’s sustainability committee, said she initially found the UCR administration to be “very non-approachable,” but says that UCR’s placement in the Princeton guide is a testament to greater lines of communication between the administration and student body about campus sustainability.

According to the Sustainable UCR website, UCR currently has a recycling rate of 19.2 percent, but seeks to increase that number to 75 percent. The office of sustainability collaborates with other departments such as UCR Dining Services to increase recycling and maintain sustainability. Twenty-seven percent of UCR residential halls serve vegan or vegetarian foods; and 43 percent of disposable paper items are compostable or made from renewable sources.

In comparison to other UC campuses such as UCLA or UC Irvine, Kavezade said she is proud that UCR still has come so far in terms of “green” initiatives, but believes the campus still needs to continue to educate departments and students that are not a part of the “sustainability bubble,” through grassroots initiatives.

“Whether it be in … sponsoring events for local community organizations or statewide and nationally recognized organizations like the Sierra Club and 350.org, (students in Sustainable UCR) want to help get the word out,” said Kavezade. “This is huge.”

The survey report in the Princeton guide commended UCR for: spending 17 percent of UCR’s food budget on local or organic food, having 18 percent of all new construction LEED-certified (for high performance green buildings), having a 50 percent waste-diversion rate and requiring 10 percent of the student population to take a sustainability course. UCR was also recognized for providing transportation alternatives through indoor bike storages and free or reduced price transit passes through a campus shuttle.

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