Saint Louis University was recently named one of Sierra Club's "Cool Schools," an honor given by the environmental organization to colleges and universities around the country that are committed to sustainability.
The list recognizes institutions' green efforts and accomplishments and includes measurable goals, such as promotion of sustainable commutes among students and employees, faculty and departments engaged in sustainability research and sustainability-themed courses or curricula.
|SLU's annual recycle drive is just one of many initiatives the University has implemented to make the University and the surrounding community be more sustainable. File photo|
"We are one of the few universities in the region that offers sustainability-focused curriculum and degree programs," said John Woolschlager, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Sustainability. "And that, of course, is a big part of what the Sierra Club is looking at. They're looking at not only universities taking responsibility for making their facilities more sustainable but also universities that offer new and innovative degree programs."
The Center for Sustainability was established in 2010 by a grant from the Alberici Foundation, with additional support from Banpu Public Company Ltd. to fund an endowed chair of professorship and research. The center offers both a master's degree in sustainability and a master's of urban planning and real estate development, as well as a joint MBA and master's degree of sustainability in conjunction with the John Cook School of Business.
"Facilities Services and the Center for Sustainability have developed a strong partnership to improve our sustainability programs and initiatives on campus," said Brandon Verhoff, director of sustainability and benchmarking in the Division of Facilities Services. "Being named one of the Sierra Club's 'Cool Schools' is a great example of how our combined efforts have begun to be noticed by outside organizations."
This is not the first time SLU has been recognized for its earth-friendly efforts. In 2011, the University earned a bronze rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The association's Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program recognizes colleges' and universities' efforts in eco-friendliness and social and economic sustainability.
The AASHE shares its data through a partnership with Sierra Club and the Princeton Review. SLU is expected to be listed in the Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges to be released in April of 2014.
Since 2010, the University has taken part in the St. Louis Regional Chamber's "St. Louis Green Business Challenge." Last year was the University's best showing in the challenge ever, and SLU earned the Star Circle of Excellence, the highest achievement award category available.