Guilford College earns high green rating

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In The Princeton Review’s 2018 “Guide to 399 Green Colleges,” Guilford was named one of the most environmentally responsible colleges with a score of 88 on a scale of 60 to 99. The schools chosen for the 2018 edition of the guide were based on data from hundreds of four-year colleges and each school’s commitment to the environment and sustainability. The guide specifically takes sustainability-related policies, practices and programs into account.

“The Green Rating is based on whether our students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable, how well our school is preparing students for green jobs in the 21st century, and how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are,” said President Jane Fernandes in an email interview. “We have always been deeply committed to our core value of sustainability and now the Princeton Guide has confirmed it.”

The Princeton Review cites Guilford’s sustainability sustainable food systems major, green transportation, carbon neutrality goal and composting efforts between the dining hall and Guilford farm for its high score. The farm seeks to reduce Guilford’s carbon footprint, producing locally grown food for the community without placing additional stress on the environment.

“The Guilford College farm has been on campus since 2010,” said Farm Manager Nick Mangili. “Our main focus is to serve as an educational laboratory by teaching students how to grow food sustainably, but we also supply food to the Guilford College campus.”

The farm aims to use sustainable practices and takes advantage of on-campus resources to the best of its ability.

“At one point we had chickens, and we used the manure to fertilize the gardens,” Mangili said. “We use the cafeteria food waste and compost that, so we can add that to the soil. We don’t use any synthetic fertilizers or herbicides.”

While a portion of the produce grown at the farm goes to the cafeteria, most of it goes out to local restaurants, grocery stores and community members in need.

“The Mobile Oasis and Mobile Market are outreach programs seeking to get food to people who need food in food deserts,” said Director of Environmental Sustainability David Petree. “I’m really proud of that particular initiative, and I think Guilford should be proud of it because we’re putting our money where our mouth is by truly going out into the community and helping people who have needs.”

In addition to sustainable food practices, green transportation programs have been implemented around campus, another initiative the Princeton Review highlights in naming Guilford a green campus.

“We have done greenhouse gas inventories and have conducted a program fairly recently called the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System,” Petree said. “STARS helped us identify weak areas. One of the areas where we were weak was providing alternative transportation.”

Now, students and faculty are able to regularly rent Lime Bikes as a mode of transportation, helping to cut down on carbon emissions. Guilford additionally partnered with the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation and Share the Ride NC earlier this year to encourage students, faculty and staff members to turn to sustainable transportation choices. STRNC is an online tool that connects community members with transportation options and seeks to increase accessibility to such transport methods throughout Guilford.

“It’s also a reason for the Share the Ride Program that we’ve implemented this semester,” Petree said. “It’s a very sophisticated and convenient software program for students and staff to carpool with other people.”

In addition to the implementation of such programs and initiatives, Guilford hopes to bring attention to the campus’ natural features through restoration projects that are currently in the works.

“We also preserve the beauty and purpose of the Guilford woods and Guilford lake,” Fernandes said. “We’re currently undergoing restoration to become a place where students can relax along the water.”

The administration believes that this ranking will place Guilford in a favorable position for prospective students who are looking into various schools during the college application process.

“For Guilford to make this list ensures we remain strong in the marketplace for colleges devoted to sustainability,” Fernandes said. “Guilford is honored to remain a leader in this field of sustainability.”

Petree emphasized how campus sustainability is a factor many applicants prioritize when looking into schools.

“As the Princeton Review states, something like six out of every 10 students look to this sustainability in helping them choose where they want to attend,” Petree said. “Clearly, the environment is important to a lot of the younger folks at this time. It’s important for Guilford to be recognized in that way to remain relevant.”

Guilford hopes to continue this into the future.

“With the Guilford Green Society, we are committed to getting Guilford to be totally carbon-neutral by 2030,” Fernandes said. “This carbon neutrality goal is another reason for Princeton naming Guilford an environmentally proactive institution.”

Petree expressed similar sentiments, reflecting on Guilford’s ranking in the Green Book.

“Guilford has done a lot of things that have distinguished it in terms of sustainability,” Petree said. “The number of energy conservation measures that we have put in place over the years have enabled Guilford to have one of the lowest costs for energy per square foot in our region.

“We’re pretty energy efficient on this campus, and I feel like that is the reason that we were recognized by the Princeton Review as being sustainable.”