After reading chapter 14, Growth Management, Smart Growth and Sustainable Development as well as chapter 15, Environmental & Energy Planning in Contemporary Urban Planning written by John Levy, I was motivated to find how Rutgers University compares to other colleges when it comes to sustainable development. How “green” is Rutgers? According to The College Sustainability Report Card published by the Sustainability Endowments Institute, Rutgers University received an overall sustainability grade of a “B” in 2011, which was up from a “B-” in 2010.
Contemporary Urban Planning defines sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. More specifically, it further describes it as planning that addresses three overall goals in a coordinated manner: environmental quality, economic development, and social equity. Rutgers received an “A” rating on the Green Building section of the report card. It states that Rutgers’ green building policy pertaining to future buildings is; “All new buildings will be designed to meet LEED Silver Equivalent” standards. Ironically the report then notes that Rutgers at that time didn’t have a single LEED-certified building. The report also notes that only 33% of the of the university’s non-hazardous construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfills in the 2009-2010 academic year. I was impressed to learn that the amount of water consumed in gallons had decreased from 93 million in 2005 to 71 million in 2010. It states that the methods in which Rutgers has reduced its water usage were mainly by low-flow faucets and showerheads. It also notes that Rutgers has storm water management technologies on campus such as porous pavements, retention ponds, and stone and vegetated swales.
Using the first definition of sustainable development found in Contemporary Urban Planning, I would say that Rutgers is on it way to becoming sustainable but has much progress to make still. I think that its green building policy is a big step in the right direction. However, a silver LEED rating is only the second level out of four possible LEED ratings and, as of 2010, had not yet constructed one. Using the second definition found in Contemporary Urban Planning, I still would only give Rutgers an average rating. At the time of the survey, Rutgers didn’t have any LEED buildings and was only diverting 33% of non-hazardous construction waste from landfills. Rutgers does, however, have impressive statistics when it comes to water-use reduction and storm water management. All of these actions would imply that Rutgers is addressing the first goal in the sustainable development definition; “environmental quality”.
To determine whether or not the university is addressing the “economic development” part of the sustainable development definition, I looked at the “Energy Efficiency” section of the report card. It states that 11% of the Livingston Campus at the university is powered by solar power. It also notes that Rutgers has reduced its building energy consumption significantly since 2005. In 2005,, the building energy consumption almost reached 30 million MBtu’s. Today, that number is down to 12 million. The report also mentions the amount and type of electricity purchased by Rutgers. Natural Gas makes up 52%, nuclear 32%, and renewables 8%. The report notes that 1.5 million MBtu’s of energy is generated annually from the on-site combustion of natural gas. Again, I would say that Rutgers is making great progress in this area of economic development. By significantly reducing building energy consumption and by increasing the amount of renewables, Rutgers is reducing their energy costs and will continue to do so.
The final goal in the sustainability definition, social equity, refers to equal opportunity in a safe and healthy environment. This portion of the definition is hard to apply to a university because the members of the community use the campus freely.
Overall, it seems development at Rutgers is on its way to becoming truly sustainable. Although it has many more obstacles to overcome before receiving an “A” on The College Sustainability Report Card, Rutgers has made great progress each year and its policies for future development suggest it will continue to do so. I am hopeful that Rutgers’ future is “green”.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.
“Rutgers University–New Brunswick College Sustainability Report Card 2011.” Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Sustainable Endowments Institue, 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <http://www.greenreportcard.org/report-card-2011/schools/rutgers-universitynew-brunswick.html>.