Slippery Rock University was recognized by the Sierra Club in their annual assessment of sustainable schools, posted in the September-October edition of the Sierra Club Magazine.
Paul Scanlon, the Special Assistant to the President for Sustainability Planning and Operations at Slippery Rock University, weighed in on the significance of this recognition.
“We find out through surveys that prospective students look at sustainability as a decision factor when choosing schools,” Scanlon said.
Slippery Rock has achieved this recognition by reducing energy consumption by 22 percent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent in the past few years, despite a growing campus population, Scanlon said.
The university accomplished these reductions by use of a climate action plan, containing long and short-term goals, Scanlon said. Recycling, using food waste for compost, and close energy monitoring of campus housing are key strategies in this plan, he added.
The university has also conducted studies to convert the campus boiler plant from coal-burning to biofuel-burning and to install solar canopies over campus parking lots, which would absorb solar energy and act as a shield from snow and other bad weather, Scanlon said.
The Sierra Club’s assessment was conducted through a questionnaire, which was available online to all four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States. Of the 173 schools that completed the questionnaire, Slippery Rock ranked 89th.
The questionnaire was based on a 1,000-point scale and was graded against a key of the Sierra Club’s environmental priorities. Slippery Rock received a score of 578.74. The highest score was an 813.51 by the University of California, Irvine.
Nearby schools that also received recognition by the Sierra Club were Chatham University, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Drexel University.
The Sierra Club is one of the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. It frequently engages in political activism, attempting to promote green policies and environmental conservation.