Princeton Review awards SF State perfect green score

Fuel Cell SF State

A fuel cell project, in collaboration with PG&E, located behind the gym at SF State uses recovered waste heat from the fuel cell in order to heat campus buildings. Photo by Alejandrina Hernandez.

SF State is greening its way up the ranks, according to the Princeton Review.

The standardized test preparation and college admissions consulting company rated 806 colleges based on greenness and overall sustainability. Out of those colleges, SF State was one of the 21 to receive a perfect score.

Sustainability Programs Manager Caitlin Steele attributes this success to the University’s numerous environmental initiatives. These include an extensive recycling program and a fuel cell plant installed by PG&E on campus that helps reduce energy and greenhouse emissions.

Although SF State received a perfect score, there are still areas where the campus can improve, according to Steele.

Princeton Review

Recycling bins are lined up at the SF State Recycle Resource Center. SF State was one of the 21 colleges to receive a perfect green score from the Princeton Review. Photo by Alejandrina Hernandez.

“SF State can always be more sustainable. We have a goal of zero waste by 2020,” Steele said. “We need to increase our diversion rate to reach that goal.”

The University currently has a 70 percent diversion rate — the percentage of waste materials that gets diverted from traditional disposal, to be recycled, reused or composted. Steele hopes to achieve a 75 percent diversion rate with a campus-wide composting program this September.

Students are upholding San Francisco’s green reputation.

“Students are the reason we are one of Princeton Review’s greenest universities. We would not have gotten that ranking without them,” Steele said. “Students can continue to support sustainability efforts by creating their own events or student clubs around sustainability.”

Savannah Volkoff is one of those students. A senior environmental studies major, Volkoff is one of the core members in the student-run organization, Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students. She has been involved in past campaigns such as Take Back the Tap, a program seeking to reduce disposable water bottle use.

“It’s super important for people who want to see change, to get involved and see to it that it happens,” Volkoff said. “Students can make change on campus. They just have to be willing to put in the extra work that it takes, to see their dreams come true.”

Alicia Fausto, a counseling graduate student, believes that she does her part.

“I always try to make an effort to be green,” she said. “The things I use the most are the labeled trash dispensers, second to carrying a reusable water bottle instead of buying drinks that have paper and plastic containers.”

What Fausto doesn’t see is other students contributing.

“Some people recycle and others don’t,” she said. “Every day I see someone throwing something in the recycling bin that isn’t meant to be there.”

Kelly De La Cruz, a business management junior, is indifferent about the campus receiving a perfect green score. “The fact that SFSU got a perfect green score does not matter to me,” said De La Cruz. “I used to recycle when I was in Southern California, but I don’t do it up here.”

Whether students are apathetic or limited in their awareness of the sustainability programs on campus, Volkoff feels that receiving a perfect green score is still a win.

“It shows me that when passion and ambition collide, change happens,” Volkoff said. “It shows me that SF State is refusing to be mainstream, refusing to be irresponsible, listening to the student body, and making lasting change. That definitely matters.”

Monthly on-campus events include Park(ing) Day Sept. 20, which shows students’ design work changing parking spaces into parks. Students are also needed to help organize events for Campus Sustainability Day Oct. 24.

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