Queen’s maintains green grades

University scores B- grade for second year in a row

Queen’s receives a B- on the College Sustainability Report Card for the second year in a row.
Queen’s receives a B- on the College Sustainability Report Card for the second year in a row.
Credit: 
Photo illustration by Tyler Ball

For continuing to green up its campus, Queen’s received a B- on the College Sustainability Report Card for the second year in a row, up from a C in 2007.

The latest report card, released by the Sustainable Endowments Institute on Oct. 7, included more than 200 post-secondary schools across North America. The schools were graded in nine categories ranging from student involvement to investment priorities.

Queen’s sustainability manager Aaron Ball told the Journal via e-mail the institute advised participants after the report came out that this year’s results were tabulated differently than in previous years.

“This caused some grade reductions in categories where Queen’s University has previously scored well,” he said. “These types of surveys can be quite useful, but changes in the way the Report tabulates results makes it difficult for true year-to-year comparisons.”

Two categories that suffered because of the change in tabulation were green building and transportation, Ball said.

“The University continued to maintain its efforts, commitments and programs that were in place in 2009 [for green building and transportation], yet the grades dropped from a B to a C,” he said. “In addition, the University committed to a key next step in terms of administration by creating a multi-stakeholder committee that will begin operation next month, yet our rating remained at a B.”

Ball said he thinks despite these setbacks, the news isn’t all bad for Queen’s.

“I was pleased to see our item rating for climate change and energy increase from a C to a B, in large part due to the completion of a GHG [greenhouse gas] inventory this summer,” he said. “Ratings aside, Queen’s is actively implementing sustainable initiatives and engaging users.”

Chryslyn Pais, spokesperson for the Sustainable Endowments Institute said the University’s strengths include having a paper-free frosh week and offering discounted parking passes for carpoolers.

Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said improving sustainability at Queen’s is a complex initiative that will take place over a long period of time.

“I think one will see improvements in our score steady, but they will probably be slow because some of these measures, while vitally important, are often complex to manage,” he said.

Deane said the University doesn’t rely on the Green Report Card to gauge its sustainability.

“It’s not the case that the University makes its policies with rankings in mind,” he said. “We tend to improve what we do according to our own standards, which sometimes do match well onto the standards the rankings make use of.”

—With files from Gloria Er-Chua

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