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UD Makes Sierra's Top 20 Coolest Schools List

The University of Dayton is ranked No. 18 on Sierra magazine's "Cool Schools" list for displaying "a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues and encouraging environmental responsibility."

UD is the only school in the Midwest among the top 20 and ranks third among all U.S. Catholic colleges and universities. 

"We stay inspired by the creative and innovative ways colleges and universities across North America are working to tackle the climate crisis and move toward a sustainable future," said Jason Mark, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Sierra evaluated 269 schools in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Canada in 18 categories using raw data from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), and a supplemental questionnaire about fossil fuel investments. Sierra then processed the STARS data through its custom-built formula and ranked schools according to Sierra's criteria based on Sierra Club priorities. The full ranking of 269 colleges and universities, including each school's questionnaire, is available at the related linkClick the related link for the full methodology.

This spring, the University earned its first gold rating in the STARS rating system. UD's STARS score ranks in the top 2 percent of all rated schools, first in Ohio, and second among all U.S. Catholic colleges and universities. The University earned perfect or near perfect marks for academic research; diversity and affordability; sustainability coordination and planning; and innovation and leadership.

Improvement from previous years came in the areas of dining operations, purchasing and grounds; curriculum and programs to address today's sustainability challenges; and student engagement in sustainability research and peer-to-peer education, according to Steve Kendig, University of Dayton executive director of energy utilization and environmental sustainability.

"We jumped nearly 23 points — and from a silver rating to a gold rating — since our last STARS report submission just 14 months ago, thanks to a joint facilities management and Hanley Sustainability Institute effort to engage more units Universitywide in our sustainability initiatives," Kendig said. "This rapid improvement — and reaching our goal a year ahead of schedule — is only possible because more units bought into the University's sustainability goals and committed to evaluating, reporting and aligning performance and priorities to advance sustainability on our campus and our community."

With more than 900 participants in 37 countries, the STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for reporting information related to a college or university's sustainability performance.

Last week, AASHE listed the University of Dayton among the world's top performers in the categories of research and purchasing, and highlighted the University's Energy GPA program and Kennedy Union green roof.

Launched last year, the Energy GPA program provides students in more than 400 University-owned residences a grade for their monthly energy use. Monthly "report cards" include electricity and gas usage and energy saving tips. Grades are determined by comparing a house's current usage against past usage and weather data, so every residence is graded by a statistically valid method that isolates energy savings from behavior changes.

Inspired by environmental biology and sustainability, energy and the environment students, the Kennedy Union rooftop garden provides a campus hub for sustainability education, improved aesthetics and a cooler roof that can lower the building's energy costs, and send cleaner water into storm sewers.

Click on the related links for the University's full STARS report, the 2018 Sustainable Campus Index and information about the University of Dayton's sustainability efforts.

UD is part of Second Nature's Carbon Commitment, which commits the University to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. UD also is a part of "We're Still In," which supports climate action to meet the Paris Agreement; the Global Catholic Climate Movement; and the U.N. Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative.

A fair trade university and the nation's first Catholic university to divest from fossil fuels, UD has committed to renovating or building facilities on campus with at least silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification or an equivalent status in mind.

Many of the University's sustainability education initiatives received a boost in 2014 with a $12.5 million gift from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation. The largest single gift in University history also established the Hanley Sustainability Institute.

Photo caption and credit: UD's first green roof on the Kennedy Union patio, the culmination of years of work by students, faculty and staff in many areas across campus. Photo by Bruce Damonte.


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