Northeastern ranked America’s greenest university

North­eastern University’s long-​​standing com­mit­ment to sus­tain­ability has once again gar­nered global acclaim: In rank­ings released ear­lier this month , North­eastern placed third among 301 schools from 61 coun­tries in the Uni­ver­sity of Indonesia’s fourth annual Green­Metric Ranking of World Uni­ver­si­ties. North­eastern placed first among all Amer­ican uni­ver­si­ties in the rankings.

The inter­na­tional list ranks higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions based on campus sus­tain­ability and envi­ron­men­tally friendly uni­ver­sity man­age­ment. The results derive from self-​​reported data in six weighted cat­e­gories: energy and cli­mate change; set­ting and infra­struc­ture; waste man­age­ment; trans­porta­tion; edu­ca­tion; and water usage.

North­eastern has ranked among the list’s top four uni­ver­si­ties since the inau­gural rank­ings in 2010, when North­eastern placed fourth among 95 higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions. Since then, the number of par­tic­i­pating uni­ver­si­ties has increased threefold.

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun shared the news on Twitter , tweeting, “Green. Green. Green. North­eastern is black, red, and green.”

Northeastern’s latest achieve­ment aligns with its ongoing com­mit­ment to becoming a greener insti­tu­tion. In 2007, the uni­ver­sity became a founding member of the Amer­ican Col­lege & Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dents Cli­mate Com­mit­ment, a nation­wide ini­tia­tive to neu­tralize green­house gas emis­sions among insti­tu­tions of higher learning. Three years later, North­eastern offi­cially adopted a cli­mate action strategy called “Sus­tain­able Action Plan: Roadmap towards Carbon Neu­trality.” The uni­ver­sity is also a member of the Clinton Global Ini­tia­tive Uni­ver­sity Net­work and recently signed the Green Chem­istry Commitment—a promise to grad­uate chem­istry majors with knowl­edge in the theory and prac­tice of devel­oping envi­ron­men­tally respon­sible chemicals.

Northeastern’s ded­i­ca­tion to envi­ron­mental sus­tain­ability is also reflected in its teaching and research. Sus­tain­ability is one of the university’s pri­mary aca­d­emic thrusts, a pro­gram­matic pillar of its robust research pro­gram. Fac­ulty mem­bers leverage the effi­cacy of use-​​inspired inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research to dis­cover solu­tions to global chal­lenges ranging from extreme weather and water scarcity to energy effi­ciency and urban coastal sus­tain­ability. Stu­dents, for their part, strive to tackle these chal­lenges through inno­v­a­tive course work, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research projects, and high-​​impact expe­ri­en­tial learning opportunities.

Sev­eral stu­dents groups aim to prac­tice and pro­mote sus­tain­ability at both the campus and com­mu­nity levels. The Husky Energy Action Team, for example, is working toward campus-​​wide envi­ron­mental sus­tain­ability and carbon neu­trality in con­junc­tion with the university’s administration.

HEAT’s exec­u­tive director, Mara Scallon, S’16, praised Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­ability. “Over the last few years, North­eastern has done a lot of tremen­dous work to improve sus­tain­ability on campus and I’m happy to see they’re working with us to con­tinue our efforts,” she said. “I hope the uni­ver­sity [takes its suc­cess] as a chal­lenge to raise the bar and increase its standards.”

The university’s campus-​​wide sus­tain­ability ini­tia­tives touch the lives of stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff each and every day. Two of the seven 3-​​Star Cer­ti­fied Restau­rants in Mass­a­chu­setts are located on campus—the Inter­na­tional Vil­lage Dining Hall and Peet’s Coffee and Jamba Juice. North­eastern is also the nation’s first col­lege or uni­ver­sity to earn both the 3-​​Star Cer­ti­fied Green Restau­rant dis­tinc­tion and LEED Gold Status.

Since joining the President’s Cli­mate Com­mit­ment in 2007, the uni­ver­sity has saved approx­i­mately 10 mil­lion kilo­watt hours of elec­tricity. One of the latest energy-​​saving projects is taking place at the Egan Research Center, where tech­no­log­ical upgrades will lead to annual energy sav­ings of approx­i­mately 1 mil­lion kilo­watt hours of elec­tricity and reduce water con­sump­tion by more than 2 mil­lion gal­lons per year.

In 2012, the uni­ver­sity recy­cled more than 300 tons of paper and cor­ru­gated card­board, 260 tons of land­scape com­post, 100 tons of bot­tles and cans, 51 tons of com­puters and elec­tronics, and 12 tons of cooking oil while its “Com­post Here” pro­gram turned food waste into nearly 600 tons of com­post. Over the last year, the uni­ver­sity has installed more than 150 fil­tered water sta­tions in build­ings across campus, helping to elim­i­nate waste from hun­dreds of thou­sands of dis­pos­able plastic bottles.