Schools – taken to school – about sustainability and sustainability projects

umass-sustainability initiative

Our Commonwealth’s flagship public university – The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was just selected as one of 22 schools in the US (out of nearly 400) to get a perfect score on The Princeton Review’s Green Colleges rankings, earning it an Honor Roll position.

It’s nice because it’s the Alma Mater of one of EarthPM’s co-founders, but more importantly there are lessons learned from the press release.  Pay particular attention to the criteria.  These are the same sorts of criteria you can hold up to your projects, programs, and portfolio of projects, especially as they are handed off to operations.



Press Release:

NEW YORK, August 5, 2013—The Princeton Review – known for its education services helping students choose and get in to colleges – today reported its annual “Green Ratings” of colleges. The project, now in its sixth year, offers a measure of how environmentally friendly the schools are on a scoring scale of 60 to 99.

The Company tallied the scores for 832 colleges this year, based on data it collected in its 2012-13 surveys of schools concerning their sustainability-related practices, policies and academic offerings. (Criteria follow.)

The “Green Rating” scores appear in the profiles of the colleges posted today on and in the profiles of the schools in the 2014 editions of two Princeton Review guidebooks that go on sale tomorrow, August 6: “The Best 378 Colleges” ($23.99) and “The Complete Book of Colleges” ($26.99), published by Random House.

The Princeton Review’s “2014 Green Rating Honor Roll”
Twenty-two colleges that received the highest possible score (99) in this year’s tallies made The Princeton Review’s “2014 Green Rating Honor Roll.” The list, which appears in “The Best 378 Colleges” book and online at, includes:

(in alphabetical order)

  • American University (Washington, DC)
  • California State University, Chico (Chico, CA)
  • College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, ME)
  • Columbia University (New York, NY)
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
  • Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
  • Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR)
  • Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)
  • Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
  • Portland State University (Portland, OR)
  • Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
  • University of California – Irvine (Irvine, CA)
  • University of California – Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
  • University of California – Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)
  • University of California – Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL)
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, MA)
  • University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
  • University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
  • University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (Stevens Point, WI)

Said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review Senior VP/Publisher, “The schools on our “Green Rating” Honor Roll demonstrated truly exceptional commitments to sustainability across key issues we looked at from course offerings and recycling programs to plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We salute their administrators, faculty, and students for their collective efforts to protect and preserve our environment.”

Franek noted the increasing interest among students in attending “green” colleges. Among 9,955 college applicants The Princeton Review surveyed in 2013 for its “College Hopes & Worries Survey,” 62% said having information about a college’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend a school.

The Princeton Review has dedicated a resource area on its website at for students interested in attending a green college. There, users can also download “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2013 Edition”—the only free, comprehensive guidebook to the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges. The free guide is a project The Princeton Review has done for four years in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council ( Published April 16, 2013, this year’s 215-page guide has profiles of schools that received scores of 83 or higher in the Company’s “Green Rating” tallies for 2013 (reported August 2012). The guide can be downloaded at or at

Criteria for The Princeton Review’s “Green Rating”
The Princeton Review tallied its “Green Rating” scores based on data it obtained from the colleges in response to a 2012-13 institutional survey that asked:

1) The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food.
2) Whether the school offers mass transit programs, bike sharing, facilities for bicyclists, bicycle and pedestrian plans, car sharing, carpool discount, carpool/vanpool matching, cash-out of parking, prohibiting idling, local housing, telecommuting, and condensed workweek.
3) Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus.
4) Whether buildings that were constructed or underwent major renovations in the past three years are LEED certified.
5) The school’s overall waste diversion rate.
6) Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration.
7) Whether the school’s students graduate from programs that include sustainability as a required learning outcome or include multiple sustainability learning outcomes.
8) Whether the school has a formal plan to mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions.
9) The percentage of the school’s energy consumption that is derived from renewable resources.
10) Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.