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Report Card 2008

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Amherst College
College Sustainability Report Card 2008

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Amherst College

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $1,700 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts


Campus Survey: Yes

Dining Survey: Yes

Endowment Survey: Yes


Data compiled from independent research. For information on data collection and evaluation, please see the Methods section.

Overall grade  
Amherst College has signed on to the Cities for Climate Protection program and has committed to reduce carbon emissions to 35 percent below pre-1997 levels. The college has a Green Campus Advisory Panel. Students are actively involved in sustainability activities and have worked with the college administration to cosponsor sustainability panel discussions with noted experts, run lightbulb amnesty programs, and conduct dorm energy competitions.
Amherst has performed a comprehensive carbon emissions inventory. The college is nearing its emissions reduction goal via the start up of its $8 million cogeneration plant. The college trustees have committed more than $200,000 per year for energy conservation projects over the past three years. The college has a green computing program.
The college spends 10 percent of its food budget on local food, contracting with 12 local producers to supply a variety of foods for the dining halls. All to-go containers are biodegradable, and a small composting program diverts 3.5 tons of food waste a year. New dorms are built with decentralized recycling closets to make recycling convenient and improve recycling rates for students. Student-run programs recycle clothes, books, and furniture to be donated to local charities.
Although it has not pursued LEED certification, the college adheres to the principles articulated in LEED guidelines as well as those documented in the college’s “High Performance Building Design Strategies” guidelines. Computer automation controls building temperatures and lighting levels according to natural daylight levels.
Two vehicles on the college’s fleet are hybrids and heavy equipment runs on biodiesel. Physical plant and campus police officers use bicycles or motor scooters. Amherst is the second college in the country to have a Zipcar program that includes students under 21.
The college makes neither its proxy voting record nor its list of endowment holdings public. Detailed information regarding the college’s endowment holdings is only available to trustees and senior administrators, while broad investment activities for the year are disclosed in the annual financial statements. In instances where the college has taken a specific policy stance, it actively makes this public and engages in a dialogue with its investment partners.
The college aims to optimize investment return and is also invested in renewable energy investment funds.
While the college does not have a formal policy to which individual investment managers must adhere, it maintains a proactive and ongoing dialogue with the managers with respect to proxy issues and their voting of the proxies.
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