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UWRF Receives Green Grade On Sustainability Report Card

Oct. 29, 2010--It’s a grade that students would be happy to bring home and would make their parents beam with pride: A minus.

The grade, awarded to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card, is recognition of the university’s widespread commitment to green practices.

This year’s grade is an improvement over last year, when UWRF received a B minus.

“It was a matter of maintaining and improving upon what we were already doing well, and picking up our game on things that hadn't made it to the priority list yet,” says Kelly Cain, director of the university’s St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development (SCISCD). “Energy and food is where we have had terrific progress and some of our most impressive results, such as the 20 percent reduction in carbon footprint in the last three years, and now up to 10 percent on locally sourced food.”

The SCISCD has been termed a ‘think and do tank,” promoting community solutions based on globally informed leadership in personal, professional and civic life. The Institute is the hub of UWRF’s sustainability-related practices and ideas, and reaches out to surrounding towns and cities to assist them in creating greener communities.

Students are highly involved in UWRF’s sustainability efforts, including the newly built University Center, which serves as a model for sustainable building practices, 100 percent green block energy for residence halls and the University Center, and rain gardens designed and installed by students with faculty and staff guidance. Faculty, students and staff also make up the membership of the university’s Sustainability Working Group, designed to support the second goal of UWRF’s Strategic Plan, to model sustainability principles.

“UWRF has a long history of sustainability-based curriculum and faculty/student initiatives, energy and material efficient operational systems and personnel, and a strong regional outreach for sustainable community development,” says Cain.

Recently, the university announced plans to study the feasibility of having wind turbines built on one of UWRF’s laboratory farms.

Cain notes, “We were boldly at this long before it was fashionable to do so. It just seems to be part of our DNA.”

Other Midwestern schools listed in the report include UW-Madison, A; University of Minnesota Twin Cities, A; Gustavus Adolphus, C plus; St. Thomas, C plus; and St. Olaf, C plus.

Initiated by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the report card assesses some 300 schools in both the United States and Canada. Their annual reports are designed to identify institutions of higher learning that can be considered leaders in their commitment to sustainability. The reports also provide the opportunity for schools to learn from one another's experiences.

For more information, contact Cain at kelly.d.cain@uwrf.edu or call 715-425-3479.


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