Fairfield University once again makes Sierra Club's list of America's greenest campuses



Image: GardenFairfield University has once again made the Sierra Club's list of schools in the nation doing the most for the planet.

Fairfield's inclusion on the 2010 'Cool Schools' list is featured in the fall issue of Sierra Magazine, a publication of the Sierra Club - the oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the nation. The list provides an overview of colleges and universities nationwide that are committed to sustainability projects. No school scored a perfect 100; Green Mountain College in Vermont came closest, with 88.6. Fairfield's total score was 57, up from a score of 43 last year.

Energy supply carried the most significance this year, but nine other categories were considered in measuring a school's commitment to sustainability: efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments, and a catchall section titled "other initiatives." Fairfield received its highest grades for its administration, purchasing policy and "other initiatives," with academics and waste removal close behind.

Those "other initiatives" at Fairfield refer to an array of campus green projects, including the University's carbon footprint reduction plan; Fiscal year 2009 showed a 7% reduction over fiscal year 2008. Also notable was the University's construction of a building on campus, the Fairfield Jesuit Community Center, complete with Earth friendly components, such as a geo-thermal energy system, a garden roof full of sedum plants, and recycled content from structural steel to carpets.

"Although we worked hard to apply rigorous, objective standards when evaluating the questionnaires, a certain amount of subjectivity was inevitable, and we hope that readers (and the growing legion of college sustainability officers) will bear that in mind," Sierra Magazine editors said. "The point, after all, is to create competition, to generate awareness, and to celebrate that so many colleges even have a sustainability officer."

David W. Frassinelli, assistant vice president and director of facilities management, is Fairfield's sustainability officer. "We're making significant headway in carbon reductions," he said. "In the last year alone, the University acquired a hybrid shuttle bus, implemented car and bike sharing programs, broke ground on a campus garden, and removed incandescent bulbs in dorms to make room for compact spiral fluorescents."

According to editors, Sierra shifted priorities in this year's survey after consulting the Club's conservation experts, who suggested giving more weight to each school's energy supply. Fairfield generates the majority of its electricity from a combined heat and power plant (CHP) built on campus several years ago. The United States Environmental Protection Agency honored the University with a 2010 Energy Star CHP Award for the energy smart CHP, which is helping to considerably reduce emissions and demand on the region's electric grid.

Other schools in Connecticut making the Cool Schools list were Yale University, the University of Connecticut and Trinity College.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 26, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 27