By Rachel Leland, Reporter
Baylor proved that it was green in more than one way when the university was recognized by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for outstanding performance in sustainability.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education presented Baylor with the Silver award, the second highest award. Baylor was also recognized as the top performer in the categories of Coordination, Planning,and Governance and Diversity and Affordability.
Although Baylor had been awarded the Bronze award by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2012, this was the first year Baylor qualified as a top performer in any of the 17 categories the organization considers.
“We’ve never been recognized at this higher level,” said director of sustainability, Smith Getterman.
Getterman along with the Baylor Student Sustainability Advisory Board were instrumental in gathering the data that was to be submitted to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for review.
In 2007, Pattie Orr, the vice president for IT and dean of university libraries, was instrumental in creating the sustainability program at Baylor.
“I am especially proud of the recognition from The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education because it shows that we are now, just eight years later, a national leader,” Orr said.
Orr cited Baylor’s Last Lights Out program as one of the numerous practices that qualified Baylor for the sought-after award. The program encourages residence halls and other buildings to turn out the lights when the room is not in use. This requires a high level of coordination with all of the departments, schools, and residence halls, which makes Baylor a contender for the Coordination, Planning and Governance award.
The other award, Diversity and Affordability, was based on Baylor’s unique Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative, which coordinates with campus gardens and Campus Kitchen to make a difference in the Waco community.
“To me, this is a wonderful testimony to the importance of good stewardship and shows how we can serve others through good stewardship and working together for sustainability,” Orr said.
Participating schools use a reporting tool called STARS, where they gather data from their campus’ practices and waste output before sending the compiled data where it is reviewed and checked by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
“I sat in a lot of other people’s offices to get the information,” Getterman said.
The report was filed last March and considered a wide range of sustainability related factors including, but not limited to, greenhouse gas emissions, food and beverage purchasing, indoor air quality and building energy consumption.
While there is no financial award given to winners, receiving a prestigious award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education opens opportunities up for notable schools to gain the attention of other organizations. Last year Baylor was recognized by the Sierra Club as one of the greenest schools in the country. The Sierra Club and other organizations share and borrow data from organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Though Baylor has improved its sustainability record since 2012 and advanced another level, a few additions to campus could help the university increase its score.
“One of the reasons why we are not ranked higher is because Baylor is not an Ag school,” Getterman said. “The University of Vermont is ranked platinum and they have a farm on campus.”
Although Baylor has a community garden with Campus Kitchen, a farm the size of Fountain Mall would be needed for consideration for a higher award like platinum Getterman said.