Recent report card leaves room for campus to improve

Last week UK received a “C” for its sustainability efforts on the 2008 College Sustainability Report Card, released by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

The grade is fairly typical for large, research universities, as Vice President of Facilities Management Bob Wiseman pointed out in an Oct. 25 Kernel article.

But clearly it is not impossible for large schools to achieve higher scores on their sustainability efforts. The University of Florida received a “B-” and Pennsylvania State University, a UK benchmark school with roughly 16,000 more students on its main campus than UK, received a “B.”

Being average should not appease the UK administration from continuing to improve upon campus sustainability.

This is especially true since UK showed improvement from the 2007 report card, when the school received an overall grade of “C-.” A half step up may not seem like much, but it is progress made and something UK should be committed to continuing.

UK can take some pride that it was graded higher than some Southeastern Conference schools that the report card examined.

Universities of Alabama and Georgia and Mississippi State and Auburn Universities all landed in the “D” range. Louisiana State University and Vanderbilt University landed in the “C” range, as did the University of Arkansas.

UK’s grade obviously leaves room for improvement, and it should also re-emphasize the need for a full-time sustainability coordinator to the UK administration.

Wiseman said in February he hoped to have the position filled by the start of the semester.

While finding the right candidate cannot be rushed, the leadership and progress that would come from one position devoted to these efforts would be invaluable. This is especially true since one of major sustainability setbacks against UK is its use of coal-powered electricity.

“We use a lot of electricity at UK and all our heat is coal produced,” Wiseman said in last week’s article. “Energy use is going to take a lot of work.”

With a long road ahead to implementing sustainable energy, the pros of having a full-time coordinator would be invaluable.

To aid UK’s efforts, students, faculty and staff should do their part by being conscious of the little things: turning off the lights and other electronic devices when out of the room and conserving water.

Although the “C” grade is still disappointing it is encouraging to see some positive movement from last year, with potential for more.