Amherst College Earns High Marks on Sustainability Report Card

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

January 30, 2008
Contact: Emanuel Costache '09
Media Relations Intern

Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations


AMHERST, Mass.—The Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) has ranked Amherst College in the top one-third among its peer institutions for the school’s campus and endowment sustainability activities, awarding the school an overall grade of B, up from last year’s grade of B-. The SEI’s list, titled College Sustainability Report Card, is the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments. It assesses initiatives in eight categories, including administration, green building and transportation.

Amherst earned A grades in three of the SEI’s categories: climate change and energy, food and recycling and investment priorities. In the first, the college was recognized for its commitment to reducing carbon emissions through a green computing program and the forthcoming start-up of an $8 million cogeneration plant. Amherst was likewise honored in the food and recycling category: the college was commended for its efforts to buy local food, its highly successful recycling programs and its composting program that diverts over three tons of food waste to a local farm every year. Amherst’s Zipcar initiative—one of the few that enrolls drivers 18 to 21—and the green building program, which lays out in the college’s “High Performance Building Design Strategies” guidelines and includes computer automated temperature and lighting control, were also lauded. In the final category, Amherst earned praise for optimizing investment return while investing in renewable energy funds.

“It’s very gratifying that our efforts have been recognized by the SEI,” said Jim Brassord, director of facilities and associate treasurer for campus services, who oversees the college’s sustainability initiatives. “Global climate change is a defining issue for students today, and we feel that it is critical for Amherst to lead by example. In doing so, we hope to instill in our students a sense of responsibility for environmental stewardship that they will continue to embrace after they graduate from college.” 

The SEI is a Cambridge-based nonprofit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. Founded in 2005, the organization is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Two hundred public and private universities with the largest endowments—ranging from $230 million to nearly $35 billion—are assessed annually by the SEI. A copy of Amherst’s report card is available online at

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