UConn has been named the world’s 11th “greenest” institution of higher education worldwide among almost 800 peers whose sustainability efforts were reviewed as part of the 2019 UI GreenMetric World University Rankings.
The recently announced rankings recognize universities that excel in six indicators: campus setting and infrastructure, energy and climate change, waste, water, transportation, and education/research.
This year, 780 universities from 85 countries took part, with UConn’s scores making it one of only two universities in the United States to reach the top 20.
UConn performed well in each metric, and particularly strongly in the areas of how it reduces and handles waste, and its educational and research activities in sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Those efforts range from reducing food waste to supporting clean energy research; building a sophisticated facility to reclaim wastewater for other uses; and ensuring its new construction projects meet high “green” standards in energy use; and other measures.
“UConn approaches this work with ambition and urgency. Prioritizing sustainability also creates exciting opportunities to be innovative and explore new approaches to environmental stewardship,” President Thomas C. Katsouleas said. “Our students, researchers, faculty members, and others across our campuses have embraced this challenge, and their efforts are evident in all corners of the University.
“You can see it in action on a daily basis: From the curricula in our classrooms to the research in our labs, and from decisions on sourcing food locally to incorporating ‘green’ design features in our signature buildings, UConn uses its strengths as a major, broad-context university to pursue and demonstrate sustainability as one of its core values,” he said.
UConn’s strongest assessments in the new GreenMetric rankings reflected noteworthy achievements in the way it handles and reduces waste, its efforts in water conservation and water recycling, and its work in environmental education and research.
For instance, UConn launched a new environmental literacy general educational requirement in 2019 that ensures students graduate having taken at least one three-credit course anchored to environmental topics. It’s not limited to science; the new requirement encourages students to look at environmental issues in a broad view, encompassing everything from political science to the arts.
Most of the top universities recognized in this year’s GreenMetric rankings are based in Europe, with UConn being one of only two institutions in the U.S. to make the top 20. The other is University of California-Davis at No. 3.
The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) also recognized UConn earlier this year as a top performer in its annual Sustainable Campus Index, noting particular strengths in campus engagement on the topic, sustainable food and dining practices, public engagement, research, and water management and conservation.
UConn is also currently No. 5 on the Sierra Club’s annual Cool Schools List, and also holds LEED certification and/or registration with the U.S. Green Buildings Council on about two dozen buildings with “green” features across its campuses, including gold certifications on McHugh and Oak halls at Storrs.