Letter: Making the grade is not enough

Iowa State received a “B” rating overall in its 2011 College Sustainability Report Card on Wednesday. This is an accomplishment in which the entire university community can take pride; the rating is determined from scores in a wide variety of categories, including student involvement, administration and shareholder engagement.

Evidence of the university and community’s commitment to sustainability is blossoming on campus: purchased wind power credits, buildings that meet LEED criteria, increasingly sustainable food in campus dining halls, on-going recycling efforts, plus many other initiatives.

But even with all we have done to build a sustainable university, we shouldn’t be complacent. There is still more work to be done.

The university’s power plant still burns tens of thousands of tons of coal each year, contributing to global climate change and other health and environmental problems. If our university’s leadership is serious about its commitment to being a sustainability leader, it must wean off of coal power like other Big 12 schools have done.

In addition to preserving the environment, sustainability is an area of comparative advantage for the university. In order to maintain this advantage, we should continue to expand our efforts to make a more sustainable university.

As an institution of education, we have the knowledge and technology to lead by example, and that is exactly what we should do.