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UW included in new guide ranking green colleges

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The Princeton Review, famous for its rankings and guides to colleges, has included the UW in its newest release, “Guide to 286 Green Colleges,” released at the end of April.

Among institutions such as Harvard and Yale, the UW was one of 15 schools to earn a spot on the “2010 Green Honor Roll.” Just seven public colleges made the list, while 697 institutions were rated.

“As you’d expect of a university surrounded by one of the nation’s greatest forests, [the] University of Washington takes sustainability and the promotion of ecologically sound practices seriously,” the guide says. “When it comes to sustainability, UW strives to not only live by example, but to give its students the opportunity to learn by example.”

The Princeton Review cited several reasons for the UW’s rating and inclusion on the list.

Composting efforts, including paper cups, lids and other dishware, factored into the rating, all a part of HFS’ 100-percent-compost goal.

“The UW, obviously it’s a big campus and we generate a lot of waste,” said senior Krysta Yousoufian, associate director of Students Expressing Environmental Dedication (SEED). “By having the compost program, we’re reducing a lot of waste here.”

One example, introduced in January 2009, is the Coca-Cola soft-drink ecotainer that’s made from plants and is 100-percent compostable. A compostable lid was introduced in October of last year.

“By showing this is possible [and] pushing companies to produce compostable cups and lids, we’re paving the way for composting to really become wide-scale,” Yousoufian said. “We’re reducing waste beyond our campus.”

The Princeton Review also noted that the UW is a charter member of the Leadership Circle of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. Signed in March 2007 by President Mark Emmert, it’s an agreement to adopt policies that minimize emissions from global warming and to integrate sustainability into curricula.

The agreement requires new campus buildings to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver (LEED) standard. Certification, required by the U.S. Green Building Council, requires that construction exceed environmental standards and minimize environmental impacts. Benjamin, Clark and Merrill Halls have been awarded at-least-silver ratings, with some ranking higher.

Out of nearly 16,000 college applicants and their parents surveyed by The Princeton Review this year, 66 percent said they would value having information about a college’s environmental commitment. Furthermore, 26 percent of students said that information would “very much” impact which schools they apply to and which school they attend.

“The ‘green’ movement on college campuses is far more than an Earth Day recycling project. It is growing tremendously among students and administrators alike,” said Robert Franek, vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, in a press release. “Many have shown extraordinary commitments to environmental issues and to the environment in their practices and programs. We are pleased to play a role in helping students who care deeply about these issues identify, get into, and study at these schools.”

Reach reporter Bryden McGrath at new@dailyuw.com.

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