MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury College is one of 15 institutions in the United States and Canada to be selected as an “Overall College Sustainability Leader” in the 2009 edition of the College Sustainability Report Card.

Now in its third year, the College Sustainability Report Card seeks to evaluate the sustainability of campus operations and endowment investments. Published by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Sustainable Endowments Institute, the report card examines the practices of 300 public and private colleges and universities in North America that generally have the largest endowments, ranging from about $150 million to $35 billion.

Middlebury’s report card shows that the college performed well enough in all categories to merit the highest overall grade of “A-.” It mentions a number of environmental initiatives specifically, including President Ronald D. Liebowitz’s signing of the Presidents Climate Commitment, the biomass plant, and a program that encourages study abroad students to conduct research related to sustainable practices.

The other 14 schools that also received an “A-” grade are: Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Carleton, Dartmouth, Dickinson, Oberlin, and the Universities of British Columbia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

The report card includes grades for each institution in nine categories: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities, and shareholder engagement. Middlebury received an “A” in eight of the nine categories.

Forty-three schools, including Middlebury, achieved “Campus Sustainability Leader” status by scoring high marks in all six campus categories or those categories unrelated to finances.

Middlebury College Director of Sustainability Integration Jack Byrne said, “Middlebury has been in pursuit of sustainability for many years now, and it’s an integral element of our strategic plan, ‘Knowledge Without Boundaries.’ We are doing our best to lead by example and to learn from our successes and challenges every year. We’re pleased to know that our accomplishments received high marks from the report card.”

According to the institute, this year’s results show that the 191 schools measured last year demonstrated a major improvement in their commitment to sustainable practices, with two out of three schools improving their grades from the previous report card. A significant increase in renewable energy investments resulted in “A” grades more than doubling in that category since last year, from 21 to 50 percent of schools surveyed. The number of schools with full-time sustainability staff positions grew from 37 to 66 percent. A sizable upward shift continued, with an increase from 45 to 54 percent, in schools addressing climate change by committing to reductions in carbon emissions. The number of schools reporting that they buy at least some food from local farms and producers rose from 70 to 91 percent.

The College Sustainability Report Card is part of the nonprofit Sustainable Endowments Institute, which is engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. Founded in 2005, the institute is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and receives funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, Kendall Foundation, Surdna Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, among others.