Making the grade is not enough

The U received an A in sustainability, but we’re still burning coal.

Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota received an âÄúAâÄù rating overall and in every category of its 2011 College Sustainability Report Card on Wednesday âÄî one of only three universities in the country to do so. This is an accomplishment in which the entire University community can take pride; the rating is determined from scores in a wide variety of categories, including student involvement, administration and shareholder engagement.
Evidence of the University communityâÄôs commitment to sustainability is all over campus: A student-run organic farm, a bike-sharing program, buildings that meet LEED criteria, increasingly sustainable food in campus dining halls, and 16 âÄúsustainability-themedâÄù student groups, plus many other initiatives.
But even with all we have done to build a sustainable university, we shouldnâÄôt be complacent. There is still more work to do.
The UniversityâÄôs Southeast Steam Plant still burns tens of thousands of tons of coal each year heating almost every building on the Minneapolis campus. If our UniversityâÄôs leadership is serious about its commitment to being a sustainability leader, it must wean off of coal power like other Big Ten schools have done.
Of course, there are also plenty of other areas where waste can be cut âÄî one only has to take a look at the many flatscreen TVs that are on all day in Coffman Union to see that âÄî but eliminating coal power should be our first priority.
In addition to preserving the environment, sustainability is an area of comparative advantage for the University. In order to maintain this advantage, we should continue and expand our efforts to make a more sustainable university.