GVSU named as green college by Princeton Review

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Fall colors spread through Grand Valleys campus Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Fall colors spread through Grand Valley’s campus Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.

Dylan Grosser

Grand Valley State University has been named a “green college” by the Princeton Review for the seventh year in a row. The Princeton Review looked at colleges in the U.S., Canada and Egypt and chose 361 to be “green colleges.”

They examined colleges in many different ways, scoring them on their application in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which gives detailed reports on college’s sustainability practices and gives them a score and rating. GVSU received a score of 66.05, which translates to a gold rating.

Norman Christopher, executive director of the Office of Sustainability Practices, said the office is grateful to be included in the list once again.

“I feel very good about (making the list) because of the consistency of (our) performance,” Christopher said. “I’m very pleased to be with GVSU as part of their list of the top colleges.”

The report the office sent to the Princeton Review tracked the different ways GVSU is a sustainable or “green” college by looking at how sustainable GVSU was in academics, operations, engagement, planning and administration. The Office of Sustainability Practices collected the data with cooperation from many other departments at GVSU. Campus sustainability coordinator Yumiko Jakobcic described the report as about 1,000 questions long and “very thorough.”

“When you see the report, it’s like how many kilowatts of electricity did you use, how many square feet of buildings do you have,” Jakobcic said. “Of that square feet, how many are labs? We have to look at every single item of food that we purchase on campus and figure out how much of it is local.”

Despite the effort, Jakobcic said it was worth it.

“I think it puts us on the map and I think that it’s appreciated,” Jakobcic said. “I think it’s important for people to know that we are committed to sustainability, so it’s one way for us to show that.”

The office is involved in a number of sustainable projects on campus, including the Sustainable Agriculture Project. Sustainability Week is being put on by the office starting Saturday, Oct. 22 and ending Sunday, Oct. 30. Kris Spaulding from Brewery Vivant will be speaking Wednesday, Oct. 26, along with other planned activities celebrating sustainability and Founders Day – which was Friday, Oct. 25. The office will be aiming for a “zero-waste football game” Saturday, Oct. 29.

GVSU was the first college in Michigan to get the gold rating from STARS in sustainability, and since then many colleges in Michigan have followed suit. GVSU has won many other awards related to sustainability, such as one of the country’s greenest universities by the Sierra Club, placing 24th in a Recyclemania competition last year and other sustainability awards from Kaplan College Guide, Sustainable Endowments Institute and U.S. Green Buildings Institute. Jakobcic said the university is well-decorated, but there is still room to improve.

“I’m always looking for room to improve, but I do think we’ve done really well,” Jakobcic said. “I’m really grateful and proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, and certainly hope to continue raising the bar forward.”