Wells Earns High Sustainability Ratings

September 16, 2016
The College received recognition from the Princeton Review and the Sierra Club "Cool Schools" List for sustainability practices and education.

Last spring, Wells received a silver rating on our first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) evaluation, created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Based on those results, we've earned two honors:

A Green Rating score of 91 from the Princeton Review

The Princeton Review rates

  • whether students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable;
  • how well a school prepares students for employment in the 21st century clean-energy economy as well as for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental concerns and opportunities; and
  • how environmentally responsible a school's policies are.

Princeton Review uses AASHE STARS data, selecting certain assessment areas and assigning different weights than does STARS. The rating is based on a scale of 60–99. Some specific assessment questions are:

What is the percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food? Our total sustainable food buying between Wells Dining and the Grind Café is 13%.
Does the school offer [sustainable transportation] programs? We earned points for our campus shuttle, our anti-idling policy, offering local housing, and telecommuting and condensed workweek programs.
Does the school have a formal sustainability committee with participation from students? The Sustainability Advisory Committee, re-convened by President Gibraltar, fully represents our campus community.
Are buildings constructed or majorly renovated in the past three years LEED certified? We have not – yet – constructed or renovated buildings to LEED levels, but the new residence hall is planned to do so.
What is our overall waste-diversion rate? We reported a 17% diversion rate, and a 250% recycling increase!
Does we have an environmental studies major, minor or concentration? We do, PLUS we have a sustainability major and two sustainability-related minors.
Do students graduate from programs that include sustainability as a required learning outcome? 85% of Wells students graduated from 22 academic programs incorporating sustainability-related learning outcomes.
Does the school have a formal plan to mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions? Wells is implementing its Climate Action Plan that guides our efforts to become 100% carbon neutral by 2050 (and hopefully sooner).
What percentage of the school's energy consumption is derived from renewable resources? We didn't have much to report in this area, but we have major plans to incorporate renewable energy in the near future.
Does the school employ a dedicated full-time sustainability officer? We do. The director of the Center for Sustainability and the Environment also serves as the college's sustainability director.

Sierra Club considers Wells a "Cool School"

The Sierra Club, showcasing "the colleges working hardest to protect the planet," also used our STARS data and re-weighted categories per their particular concerns. Of 201 institutions included on their 2016 "Cool Schools" list, Wells came in at #132.

On a 1000 point scale, Sierra awarded Wells 509.88 points; the highest-ranked institution earned only 783 points. Sierra heavily weights Energy (264), Transportation (122), Investments (95), Waste (95), and Water (70), while max points for Co-Curricular Activities is 93 and Academics is 71. Our Cool Schools scores were mixed. In Planning, we are #12 on the list; in Academics, we rise to the #18 position. In Energy and Food, we scored well above average, but we scored lower in heavily weighted areas like Investments, Waste, and Transport.

Thank you to Wells' Center for Sustainability and the Environment and Director Marian Brown for coordinating our STARS assessment, for working with the Princeton Review and Sierra Club, and for gathering and presenting the results! Check out our profile on the Princeton Review website; the Sierra Club's listing is also available online.

Our mission is for every student to think critically, reason wisely and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives. On our beautiful lakeside campus, students gain the knowledge, skills and experience to create their own unique path.

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