Baylor's Sustainability Practices Recognized by Sierra Club's 'Cool Schools' List

August 23, 2013

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (Aug. 23, 2013) - Baylor University has received more national recognition for its commitment to campus sustainability, this time from the Sierra Club, which named Baylor to its seventh annual list of Cool Schools.

The list ranks 162 universities on their campus sustainability practices based on responses to the extensive STARS survey (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System'), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Baylor was one of only four Texas universities on the list, which included Texas A&M, Texas Tech and the University of Texas at Dallas.

"We're very excited to have Baylor represented for the first time on the Sierra Club's nationally recognized Cool Schools list," said Smith Getterman, assistant director of sustainability and special projects at Baylor. "The list is notoriously rigorous, so to have Baylor placed on it for the first time is a huge achievement - and honor - for the university and our campus partners. This is yet another demonstration that Baylor University definitely considers the judicious stewardship of our God-given resources a top priority for all our faculty, staff and students."

The extensive STARS questionnaire asked universities about everything from where a campus gets its energy to whether its landscapers use native plants and its cafeterias offer recycled napkins.

Baylor's top sustainable practices include:

• Styrofoam-free campus: Baylor is a Styrofoam-free campus, including athletic events. In University restaurants and dining halls, to-go resources are made out of bamboo or paper products.

• Record recycling: In 2012, Baylor set a new recycling record, finishing with 440.71 tons of recycling, and in 2013, expects to recycle another 400-plus tons. To show Baylor's improvement in this area, in 2007 the University recycled a total of 160 tons, which is about how much Baylor now recycles in only four months.

• Record ridership on the BUS: The Baylor University Shuttle (BUS), which is operated in partnership with Waco Transit, reported a record ridership of 315,000 students, faculty and staff during the 2012-2013 academic year.
• Irrigation system water savings: The University installed a new irrigation system that currently covers about one-third of the Baylor campus. The new system has already generated 20-25 percent in water savings.
• LEED buildings: Two buildings are on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Marrs McLean Science Building has completed an extensive $23 million renovation and is on track for LEED Gold certification. Baylor's just-opened $73 million East Village Residential Community is expected to be LEED certified at the Silver level. Baylor's additional LEED certified buildings are George W. Truett Theological Seminary (LEED certification for existing buildings), the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility (LEED Silver) and the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex, including the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center (LEED Silver).

Participation in Sierra magazine's Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Evaluations were based on survey information provided by the participating schools, as well as follow-up inquiries and publicly available outside sources. Final ranking decisions were based on a scoring key that emphasizes the Sierra Club's environmental priorities and rewards schools that do a good job of measuring and mitigating their impact.

The survey, officially called the Campus Sustainability Data Collector, is the result of the collaborative efforts of four organizations: the Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) and the Princeton Review.

For more information, contact Getterman at 254-710-3768 or or visit the Office of Sustainability at Baylor.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.