The results are in, and LMU has passed the environmental test. The University earned a B- on the College Sustainability Report Card, a nationally recognized report that measures campus and endowment sustainability activities of more than 300 universities across the nation. LMU improved by an entire letter grade this year, showing promise of the University's commitment to decreasing its carbon footprint.
'I think LMU has a lot to be proud of; improving by that much is a significant increase for one year,' said Chryslyn Pais of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, who conducts the annual report.
LMU was judged on answers it submitted in nine different categories, including climate change and energy measures, food and recycling policies, transportation incentives and student involvement.
Ernie Rose, the senior vice president of Academic Affairs and chair of the Environmental Sustainability Committee, emphasized the significance of different departments contributing to the University's environmental improvement.
'I'm absolutely delighted, and it demonstrates that people on campus are taking the campus climate contract seriously. Bringing the library online as a LEED silver is a terrific accomplishment, and the fact that Sodexo is now providing more environmentally friendly plates and utensils is a very helpful and positive direction for the University,' said Rose. With the recent addition of the William H. Hannon Library, LMU now has four Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings on campus, including Leavey 6, Del Rey North and Del Rey South.
The exterior of the campus is not the only thing LMU is working to expand. To satisfy students' growing interest in the environment, faculty and staff are in the process of putting together an interdisciplinary environmental studies minor.
According to Rose, many faculty members already incorporate environmental research into their curriculum, which in turn benefits the University.
Professor Jeremy Pal of the College of Science and Engineering department noted that students' interest in sustainability is growing.
'Last year, a new course on climate change and sustainability was the most attended course in the civil engineering and environmental science graduate programs. Students have prompted us to develop another course on engineering sustainability that will cover topics such as LEED, water recycling and alternative energy,' said Pal.
'Dr. Pal is a good example because the students who take his courses do environmental studies on campus that help provide data and information we can use to improve our sustainability efforts,' said Rose.
While the University concentrates on infusing sustainability into the curriculum, Rose acknowledges the need for a sustainability coordinator to oversee projects throughout all departments of the University. 'The position came under a hiring freeze for this budget year, but now that Oct. 1 has come and we've made our enrollments, I'm hoping that we will start the process again,' said Rose.
As LMU works to fulfill its environmental responsibility by incorporating sustainability into each aspect of campus life, it also improves its reputation with potential students. 'This generation values sustainability efforts a lot more than incoming students have in the last 15-20 years. It's not just about how a school does academically or athletically, it's also about how a school performs environmentally as well,' said Pais.
In contrast with other California colleges including USC, Pepperdine University, Santa Clara University and UCLA, LMU saw the most improvement since last year's report card was published. Though tied with its rival, Pepperdine University, LMU still falls slightly behind when compared to Santa Clara and UCLA, who both earned a B on this year's report card.
With room to improve, Rose said the University will continue to strive to be a model for the community. 'We'll keep working on it. We want to get to an A, obviously ... We're the largest employer in this area, so for us to be a model for others is important and it demonstrates to the community that we're good citizens who care about the environment and the ecology in this area.'