Notre Dame received a B on this year’s College Sustainability Report Card, improving over last year’s B-. The higher grade came in response to a reduction in the University’s carbon emissions and a number of resource-saving policies promoted by the Office of Sustainability and the Energy and Environmental Issues Committee.
Notre Dame’s carbon emissions declined by 7.5% from 2008 to 2009, even as new construction added 280,000 square feet to the built campus. This improvement was largely due to the $4 million Energy Conservation Measures program, which is increasing lighting, heating, and cooling efficiency in 25 buildings. The Temperature Set Point Policy, implemented in Spring 2009, has also begun to yield energy savings by standardizing thermostat settings in buildings with digitally controlled heating and cooling.
The University’s Green Loan Fund has begun to contribute to energy conservation by funding compact fluorescent light bulb exchanges in the residence halls and retrofitting lamp posts with ultra-efficient LED lighting. Energy conservation has also resulted from increased awareness on campus through programs such as the Dorm Energy Competition and the Main Building-College of Science Energy Challenge.
“This is the first year that campus electricity demand has actually declined since the late 1970’s,” said Paul Kempf, Notre Dame’s Director of Utilities. “That’s a major milestone.”
The Report Card made special note of Notre Dame’s increased use of recycled paper. Through a collaboration with Office Depot’s corporate sustainability program in Spring 2009, Notre Dame’s Procurement Services was able to negotiate a lower price for recycled paper than for virgin paper. The result: recycled-content paper has skyrocketed from 10% to over 80% of total paper purchases across the campus.
The Report Card is the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments. Published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, it assesses 300 public and private colleges and universities with the largest endowments each year.