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Report Card 2008

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Oberlin College
College Sustainability Report Card 2008

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Oberlin College

School details:

  Grade higher than last year

  Campus Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $695 million as of June 30, 2006

Location: Oberlin, Ohio


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  
B +
Former Oberlin College president, Nancy Dye, signed the Presidents Climate Commitment. The college’s environmental policy statement, created by the Environmental Policy Advisory Committee, outlines principles for college energy production and use, as well as for transportation, construction, and purchasing issues. The Office of Environmental Sustainability has a sustainability coordinator and a detailed website. Oberlin’s strategic plan identifies sustainability as one of its key directives.
Since 2004, Oberlin has purchased all of the available green attributes from its local utility, which is estimated to be about 50 percent of the college’s annual electricity consumption. The largest photovoltaic array in Ohio, totaling 4,671 square feet, is located on the roof of the Center for Environmental Studies. The Oberlin Wind Power Initiative has begun research into the feasibility of constructing commercial-scale wind turbines in the Oberlin area.
The Farm to Fork program and the Eat Local Challenge have organized local farmers and suppliers to provide organic, local foods to the college. Both initiatives are managed by the Bon Appétit Management Company. Dining services composts food scraps and recycles leftover cooking oil as biodiesel for the college’s use. A comprehensive recycling program is also in place.
In June 2006, the trustees adopted a policy stating that all new buildings must be built to LEED Silver standards. The first new facility being designed under the policy is on track to earn LEED Gold certification. The college’s Center for Environmental Studies was selected by the Department of Energy as one of the 30 “milestone” buildings of the twentieth century, and would be LEED Platinum-certified had it not been built before the advent of the LEED system. An innovative “living machine” provides a closed-loop water use, cleansing, and re-use system.
The Office of Safety and Security uses two hybrid vehicles, and an electric mail delivery vehicle has also been purchased. There is a bike co-op that provides rentals and repairs. The college also offers financial support to Lorain County Transit, the regional public-transit authority that offers bus service in Oberlin and neighboring communities, as well as to the airport in Cleveland.
The college makes its proxy voting records and a list of endowment holdings available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community. This information is available at the investment office on campus.
Oberlin aims to optimize investment return and, since March 2001, the college has offered two Calvert funds that take into account environmental and social factors as alternative investment vehicles for donors making leadership gifts.
The Campus Committee on Shareholder Responsibility—consisting of students, faculty, and staff—deliberates and makes recommendations or decisions on proxy votes.
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