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School in top half of eco-friendly ranking

| Monday, September 8, 2014

The University of Notre Dame recently ranked No. 11 on SaveOnEnergy.com’s Top 25 Eco-Friendly Football Schools.

The SaveOnEnergy.com team reviewed the annual preseason Top 25 NCAA Football rankings released by the Associated Press and created their own rankings based upon each university’s commitment to sustainability. Notre Dame tied with the University of Oregon for the 11th spot on this list.

“We used the AP Top 25 list because we wanted to take something that everyone was already talking about and present a new twist on it,” Stephanie Dula, SaveOnEnergy.com’s community manager, said. “We thought it would be an interesting way to turn something sports related into something about sustainability.”

Dula said SaveOnEnergy.com’s ranking process rated colleges on six criteria: stadium sustainability efforts, number of active green organizations, waste diversion rates, percentages of budgets spent on locally grown or organic foodsand the levels of Environmental Studies degrees offered.

“Two standouts for Notre Dame would be the waste diversion rate and the locally grown organic food. Both of those were scored higher than most other schools,” said Dula. “We were also impressed with the University’s Game Day Recycling program.”

Notre Dame’s Game Day Recycling program began in 2007 and recycled more than 120 tons of waste during the 2013 football season, according to Erin Hafner, senior program manager of the Office of Sustainability.

Game Day Recycling “is probably the most visible sustainability program surrounding football,” Hafner said. “It’s gotten to be bigger over the years. Student organizations now know about it because they can earn money towards their club or dorm.”

According to the Office of Sustainability’s website, a 48 percent recycling rate was achieved at the 2014 Rice football game, diverting 21 tons of waste from landfills.

“We are always honored when anybody looks at our program to rank us,” Linda Kurtos, Notre Dame Director of Sustainability, said. “It makes us happy with what we have accomplished and gives us motivation to rise to the top.”

Senior Garrett Blad, president of the environmental organization GreeND, said GreeND has “been instrumental in helping get some of the sustainability initiatives started on campus.”

Blad, who is pursuing a major in Sustainable Policies and Environmental Science, said he is “curious to see what other universities are doing and how we could look to their programs to help upgrade ours.”

According to Kurtos, the Office of Sustainability has plans to continue improving in the future.

“Our Game Day initiative is expanding much more into our other sports,” said Kurtos. “However, the current game day system for football is pretty tried and true for what we are doing.”

According to Dula, SaveOnEnergy.com wanted to highlight some of ways colleges reduce waste and save energy, not just during football games, but on campus in general.

“I think Notre Dame is making great strides towards sustainability,” Blad said.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, the Observer's current Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's a former Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

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