Notre Dame sustainability grade rises for third straight year

Author: Rachel Novick

Office of Sustainability

The University of 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 percent from 2008 to 2009, even as new construction added 70,000 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 24 buildings. The Temperature Set Point Policy, implemented this spring, also has 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 also has 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 1970s,” 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 this spring, 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 percent to more than 80 percent 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.

Contact: Rachel Novick, Office of Sustainability,