University performs high in renowned global sustainability ranking

University performs high in renowned global sustainability ranking

QS World University Rankings, the widely-regarded global ranking of colleges and universities, recently released its first ever University Sustainability Rankings list, with the University of Rochester placing well across the board. Sustainability rankings now influence overall QS college and university rankings, helping to push schools to prioritize sustainability.

QS Rankings, compiled by higher education analytics firm Quacquarelli Symonds, considers a variety of factors including academic and employer reputation, research impact, and faculty/student ratio, and employment outcomes. The recently added sustainability ranking holds significance for colleges and universities globally, reflecting the commitment to environmental responsibility and stewardship while also serving as a benchmark for comparison with peer institutions. Out of 1,403 universities in the 2024 list, the University of Rochester ranked 248 globally, tied with Charles Darwin University in Australia. Within the Americas, the University ranked 60 out of 342 institutions, and within the United States, placed 35 out of 210.

Three main categories make up the new sustainability ranking, each with a separate weight: social Impact (45%), environmental impact (45%), and governance (10%). Examples include how much renewable energy is generated on the campus, how many climate- or sustainability-related courses are offered, industry partnerships, and gender ratios of students and administrative leaders. When divided by category, the University ranked strongest globally in social impact at 177, followed by environmental impact at 322, and ending with governance at 614.

Jieer Chen, a senior data analyst at the River Campus Libraries and an integral member of the team dedicated to evaluating global rankings, emphasizes the significance of these rankings. They not only enhance the University’s visibility to a global audience but also serve as a valuable tool for benchmarking its performance against peer institutions. Additionally, QS Rankings can significantly influence international students’ decisions when selecting a college or university.

In navigating the complexities of data compilation, Chen and colleagues proactively sought guidance from domain experts when online resources were insufficient. Dale Hess, associate vice provost for the Office of Data Insights, played a pivotal role in guiding and facilitating connections with the appropriate individuals. Notably, Sustainability Manager Amy Kadrie and Energy Engineer Tim Vann provided crucial data, enhancing the precision and depth of insights, thereby underscoring the collaborative efforts involved.

“It is a good feeling to know that we are ranking competitively with other institutions in the United States and globally when it comes to topics like carbon emissions, renewable energy and water consumption,” Kadrie shared. “While the latest ranking also considers factors like environmental education initiatives for students and staff, I am hopeful that plans for more efforts in this area as well as the addition of publicly stated goals and commitments will pull our rankings even higher in future years,” added Kadrie.


Written by Sarah Woodams, 2024(T5)

Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester