University of Houston got a C this week, and it wasn’t for "Coogs." The 2009 College Sustainability Report Card gave UH aC-minus
“We actually had a lower rating in the initial draft,” says Dave Irvin, Associate Vice President of Plant Operations.
He says the first grade – a D – didn’t account for many of UH’s ongoing and upcoming efforts including “recycling and lean and green construction.” So, Irvin contacted the organization and asked them to reconsider. (And any undergrad on academic probation knows half a grade point is totally worth fighting for.)
Not surprisingly, Irvin says he was surprised to receive such a low grade and says a lot of it has to do with talk not walk.
“I think part of our problem is we don’t do a good job of outing what we’re doing,” Irvin says. “We just sort of do it and try to advance the bar.” He also added that the grading practices are undefined.
“We’re not quite sure exactly how the report card works because we look at some of our colleagues that we know at other institutions; we know what they’re working on, we know we’re doing almost exactly the same things in some realms, like construction for instance, yet the ratings are quite different. That causes us to scratch our heads because we’re not sure where the scores are coming from,” Irvin says.
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The grade does mark an improvement: Last year UH received a D with no room for argument. Irvin says regardless of a report card, UH is always looking to expand its sustainability efforts.
“We think it’s very important for a whole wide range of reasons from saving money and using tax payer and student dollars more effectively to saving the planet,” Irvin says.
— Dusti Rhodes