Several reports issued last week detail the work Indianapolis and some of its major institutions have to face in order to achieve a green standard most now feel is required for large businesses, including government buildings and operations.

Mayor Ballard's administration released the first City of Indianapolis Sustainability Report on Tuesday, a fairly comprehensive report detailing the efforts of the city's Office of Sustainability over the past year. In the report, new and ongoing projects related to city water and land use, solid waste and recycling, energy and emission, green building and development and overall quality of life issues related to sustainability and green projects.

While the report is slim, and many projects are just getting off the ground, there is evidence that the efforts to improve the city's use of natural resources and reduce its carbon imprint are taking hold.

Citing the success of the Pogue's Run Flood Control Basin, increased awareness and participation in e-scrap recycling and ToxDrop programs, the addition of 14 miles of bike lanes in the city, new LED traffic signals, the purchase of 89 hybrid vehicles, as well as a host of projects undertaking by non-governmental organizations, business and individuals, the report presents a wide range of efforts to green the city of Indianapolis and improve the sustainability and environment.

One of the key components to the city's plans is the renovation of the City-County Building in order to make its operation more energy efficient. Retrofitting the nearly 50 year structure has some significant challenges, as indicated in the recently released "Opportunities and Innovation: Indianapolis City-County Building." With an expected budget of between $6 million and $13 million, and the need to complete the construction while the seat of city and county government remains occupied and functional, greening the City-County Building will be an ambitious and costly project.

Both reports are available from the Office of Sustainability at www.sustainindy.com

Making the grade

The GreenReportCard.org website operated by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has released the results of a survey which examined sustainability and green efforts at more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities. The annual report provides school profiles and grades indicating the "greenness" of each school.

"Colleges are now taking pride in greener campuses and sustainability-savvy investments - increasingly important concerns for parents and students in choosing a school," according to Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

Indiana schools in the survey include Purdue, IU-Bloomington, IUPUI, and Butler. Purdue and IU-Bloomington both received overall grades of B-, while IUPUI and Butler each received a C-.

The survey looked at categories such as how the administration addresses and prioritizes issues of sustainability, as well as student involvement in the efforts. It also considered things like recycling programs at the campuses, transportation, energy use, green building, endowment transparency and investment priorities.

Highest marks went to IU Bloomington for student involvement and investment priorities and to Purdue for endowment transparency and investment priorities (A), though both schools also received low marks for shareholder engagement (D) and Purdue was called out for its lack of green building initiatives (D). Neither school received grades lower than D.

On the other hand, both IUPUI and Butler showed lower scores, with Butler receiving failing grades in endowment transparency and shareholder engagement (F), and unsatisfactory marks in climate change and energy, green building and transportation (D). The only A received by Butler was for investment priorities, indicating the university is looking to renewable energy funds.

IUPUI did not receive any failing marks, but did show unsatisfactory progress in the areas of student involvement, climate change and energy, green building and shareholder engagement (D). Like Butler, IUPUI did receive an A for investment priorities, however.

To view the results for each of these four schools, as well as hundreds of others, go to www.GreenReportCard.org.

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