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Report Card 2008

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Rice University
College Sustainability Report Card 2008

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Rice University

School details:

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Endowment: $4,700 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: Houston, Texas


Campus Survey: Yes

Dining Survey: No

Endowment Survey: Yes


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

Overall grade  
C +
A former Rice president signed the Talloires Declaration in 1995 and the board of trustees adopted a sustainability policy in 2004. The university employs a full-time director of sustainability, two energy managers, and a recycling coordinator. From becoming eco-reps in dormitories to conducting carbon inventories in class, students are frequently involved in campus sustainability efforts. The 2007 summer common reading, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Kolbert, marks the beginning of a year-long series of activities devoted to the themes of humans, nature, and climate change.
Rice is one of the only universities in the country that uses a weather-normalized model for energy consumption, a tool developed by the university’s energy managers that allows the school to understand variations in energy consumption that are not weather-driven. The tool is useful in managing programs such as the 2007 conservation initiative in the university’s most energy-intensive laboratory.
The housing and dining department is working to incorporate more local and organic products into residential dining areas and a farmers market operates weekly on campus. Rice has a comprehensive recycling program that includes items such as cell phones, shoes, and electronics. Recycled cooking oil is used in campus lawnmowers, and landscaping wastes are reused on campus grounds.
As part of broad campus sustainability initiatives, all of the university’s future buildings will meet some level of LEED certification. Currently, LEED certification is being pursued for a laboratory tower, a child-care center, a recreation center, and renovation of an engineering laboratory. Rice recently announced plans to construct a LEED Gold dormitory. The university will increase its built space by almost one million square feet, almost all of which will be “green.”
Students and faculty work together to convert waste cooking oil from university kitchens into biodiesel for use in the campus fleet. Students also receive discounted rates when they use the light rail system. The administration plans events along the rail lines to encourage students to become familiar with the city and methods of public transportation.
The university makes information on endowment holdings available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community, and is sent to individuals upon request. Proxy voting records are made available only to trustees and senior administrators.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds.
Rice asks that its investment managers handle the details of proxy voting.
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