University moving to the head of the environmental class

Brandeis recognized for its sustainability work on campus and in the community

Brandeis sustainability projects included working with children to create community gardens

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Thanks to new eco-friendly initiatives, Brandeis has improved its grade on the annual College Sustainability Report Card. After receiving a C grade from the Sustainable Endowments Institute last year, the non-profit gave the university a B- this year.

“We’ve improved in a lot of different areas,” said Sustainability Coordinator Janna Cohen-Rosenthal.  “Still, we have more room for improvement, and it’s exciting to add sustainability initiatives each year.”

The Sustainable Endowments Institute evaluated 300 colleges and universities nationwide and graded them on their environmental efforts in both campus operations and endowment investments. While the average mark was a C+, Brandeis joined local schools including Boston University and Boston College with a B-. The university scored highest in the categories of “Administration,” “Student Involvement” and “Investment Priorities.” You can read Brandeis’ complete evaluation here. The report card’s highest overall grade, an A-, was given to only 15 schools.

In addition to the improved grade, Brandeis was one of only nine schools recognized for the institute’s Champions of Sustainability in Communities Award. The competition honors colleges and universities that have collaborated with off-campus organizations on green projects and programs. Brandeis received honorable mention distinction for a class project in Professor Laura Goldin’s Greening the Campus and Community course, in which a group of students partnered with the Prospect Hill Tenants Association to develop gardens for low-income families in Waltham. In its recognition of Brandeis, the institute said, “The collaboration highlighted how community-guided sustainability efforts have the most potential for impact, and, as a result, the collaboration has the strength to grow in new directions.”

Even with all the accolades, Brandeis continues to explore new ways to increase campus sustainability. The university recently hired 12 students to be Eco-Reps for their residence quads. Each of the Eco-Reps will help with recycling and energy saving in their portion of campus, as well as peer education.

The Eco-Reps are also busy spreading the word on the university’s new recycling system. Previously, paper products needed to go into bins with blue lids, while plastics, glass and metal were separated into bins with green lids; now any material can be placed in any recycling bin, regardless of the color. Janna Cohen-Rosenthal thinks the easy-to-use process will result in more recycling on campus. “I’m hoping that at this time next year, I can say our grade for recycling has improved and we’ve doubled our recycling rates,” she said.

You can read more about Brandeis’ new all-in-one recycling system and other sustainability initiatives on the Campus Sustainability Web site.

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage