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How green is your campus?
Date:10/19/2010

Williamsburg, VA October 19, 2010 Corporations and individuals alike are increasingly focused on "going green," in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment. It is questionable whether higher education institutions are adopting sustainable practices at the same rate, despite large consumption rates of energy and water, among other resources. In the first study of its kind, Contemporary Economic Policy presents an article which compares the factors that drive colleges to adopt sustainable practices to the factors that motivate for-profit companies to "go green."

Dr. Sarah L. Stafford, Professor of Economics at the College of William and Mary, utilized data on campus sustainability grades originally developed by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, with information from over 180 universities. Her research analyzes the factors that had a significant effect on campus sustainability rating, including regulatory pressures, financial constraints, student preferences, and pressure from stakeholders such as faculty, alumni, and the surrounding community.

Stafford remarks, "The size of the university, their endowment, and the opinions of the faculty, alumni, and the local community are all highly influential in whether colleges adopt sustainable practices. I found that the decision to adopt sustainable policies was not at all related to the goal to attract students. For-profit companies pursue sustainable practices to increase their environmental performance due to regulatory pressures, but universities are not influenced by these factors."

Stafford's research speaks to the fact that if government or non-profits wish to increase sustainability on college campuses they will need to use different policies than what is currently used for corporations. Stafford points out that the decision of college presidents to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC) was mainly a symbolic gesture and motivated by q
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Contact: Bethany Carland-Adams
scholarlynews@wiley.com
781-388-8509
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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