KINGSTON, R.I. – August 21, 2015 — From its historic origins as an agricultural school, the University of Rhode Island has always embraced principles rooted in a respect for the environment and sustainable practices. That legacy has not gone unnoticed, as The Princeton Review has named URI among the nation’s “greenest” colleges for the sixth year in a row.
The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition profiles colleges with exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives, and activities. The profiles in the guide give college applicants information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, as well as student body facts and stats.
“The University is rooted in principles of sustainability,” said Marsha Garcia, URI’s campus sustainability officer. “It began as an agricultural program more than 100 years ago and that remains the foundation of how the University operates today.”
The free 218-page guide can be downloaded at The Princeton Review’s Guide. Users can also peruse detailed “Green Facts” on the schools. These write-ups report on everything from the school’s use of renewable energy, recycling and conservation programs to the availability of environmental studies and career guidance for green jobs.
“Among nearly 10,000 teens who participated in our 2015 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s senior vice president and publisher. “We strongly recommend the schools in this guide to environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges.”
The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on “Green Rating” scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied in summer 2014 for 861 colleges using data from its 2013-14 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment. Schools with Green Rating scores of 83 or higher made it into the guide.
Garcia noted that inclusion on the list enhances URI’s profile among top-performing students who are environmentally conscious.
“This is a fantastic way to reach the best and brightest students for whom the environment and principles of sustainability are among their criteria for selecting a university at which to study,” Garcia said.
The guide noted URI’s sustainability committee, buildings certified for Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEED), sustainability-focused degree availability and its plethora of transportation alternatives among the reasons for its inclusion on the list.
Garcia pointed out that all new construction on campus will meet design standards to achieve at least LEED silver certification, and several recently completed buildings are awaiting formal recognition.
In addition, the University boasts an electric vehicle charging station installed in 2013 that services two vehicles simultaneously. Because of demand, she hopes a second one will be installed in the near future.
More than just infrastructure, URI’s sustainability efforts carry over to the curriculum, with a section of the academic plan developed by the Office of the Provost that addresses sustainability and how it should be incorporated into the curriculum at URI as the green economy grows.
The University has also made efforts to educate faculty, staff and students and encourage them to exhibit environmentally friendly behavior.
“We’ve been working on modifying student behavior with regard to power consumption in the residence halls for five years and we have great data on the changes in students’ habits because of our efforts,” Garcia said. “It’s been so successful with students that we want to implement a similar behavior change program targeted to staff and faculty, beginning in the fall.”