University of South Carolina

USC earns highest rating in 2013 Green Honor Roll

By Laura McClure,, 803-777-3705

The University of South Carolina was named to the 2013 Green Honor Roll, receiving the highest possible score on Princeton Review’s “Green Ratings.”

USC was the only university in South Carolina and was one of two universities in the Southeastern Conference to earn the top ranking. Vanderbilt University also earned a rating of 99.

The Princeton Review’s fifth annual “Green Ratings” was based on surveys about colleges’ environmentally related practices, policies and academic offerings. The ratings are based on a scale of 60 – 99. USC was one of 21 colleges to be named to the list for 2013.

The "Green Rating" scores appear in the Princeton Review profiles of the colleges on and in the 2013 editions of two Princeton Review guidebooks, "The Complete Book of Colleges" and "The Best 377 Colleges.”

The university’s commitment to becoming a more sustainable campus began nearly 10 years ago with plans to build a green residence hall. Since that time, USC has earned numerous awards and top rankings for its leadership in collegiate sustainability and green initiatives.

“Carolina continues to make substantial strides towards greater sustainability,” President Harris Pastides said. “As we are energized by our students to reduce carbon emissions, grow campus gardens, recycle, manage green residence halls and more, we are also empowering them to be leaders in the emerging green economy. I believe that Sustainable Carolina will ultimately have a wide-reaching impact on the university and our broader communities.”

The 2013 Green Honor Roll is the latest accolade USC has earned for its commitment to leadership and sustainability excellence. This spring the university earned a Gold rating from STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System), considered the standard reporting system for sustainability among all higher education institutions.

In that rating system, USC was one of only 37 colleges and universities in the nation and the only university in the Southeastern Conference to earn a Gold rating.

Two drivers of USC’s success have been its students and commitment to building green.

The Sustainable Carolina initiative employs more than 40 student interns to help implement the campus’ sustainability plan. The program is based on leadership development and allows students to apply leadership and sustainability practices they learn in the classroom to campus sustainability initiatives through the 18 Sustainable Carolina project teams, which include ones for recycling, gardening and campus housing.

“One of the most unique aspects of Sustainable Carolina is its role as a leadership program. Capitalizing on the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability, Sustainable Carolina provides a model of leadership development for students in any field,” said Carter Cox, sustainability education and outreach coordinator. “By combining skill-building workshops with tangible experience on project teams, our students have the opportunity to implement their own sustainable projects while also cultivating leadership skills they can utilize to promote sustainability in any field.

“The scope and depth of sustainability on the USC campus would not be possible without these students. We are proud not only to have our students leading sustainability programming at USC, but also to have graduates from our program serving organizations such as the United Nations, the Peace Corps and international businesses.”

USC helped create the state’s infrastructure for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, an effort that began in 2002 with plans to build Green (West) Quad. Through LEED certification programs, USC trained building professionals—including architects, contractors and engineers—in green design, making the project and others possible. Green Quad opened in 2004 and earned LEED Silver a year later. It was the state’s first public LEED building and the first green residence hall in the U.S.

Built at the same cost as traditional design, Green Quad ushered in a new era of building at the university. Other green buildings include the Honors Residence, Patterson Hall, the Discovery and Horizon research buildings, the Band and Dance Hall, the Arnold School of Public Health and The Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.

Today, all new construction on campus must be built at LEED Silver or higher standards. At least 10 LEED projects are in design or being constructed.

USC’s most ambitious green project is its new Darla Moore School of Business, which is being built at a LEED Platinum level with the goal of creating the world’s largest net zero (generate as much energy as consumed) building.

Beyond the university itself, USC’s leadership in sustainability has spurred South Carolina’s economy, increasing the number of green trained architects in the state to more than 1,700 and encouraging additional green building projects across the state and nation.


About Princeton Review Green Honor Roll:

The Princeton Review developed its Green Rating criteria and institutional survey in 2007 with ecoAmerica, a non-profit environmental organization. The criteria for the rating encompass three broad areas: 1) quality of life on campus that is healthy and sustainable; 2) efforts to prepare students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges; and 3) overall commitment to environmental issues.

About LEED certification and the U.S. Green Building Council:

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000, the LEED rating systems are developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees. As an internationally recognized mark of excellence, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

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Posted: 08/24/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 09/10/12 @ 12:56 PM | Permalink