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Report Card 2008

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Williams College
College Sustainability Report Card 2008

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Williams College

School details:

  Grade lower than last year

  Endowment Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $1,900 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: Williamstown, 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  
B +
The Trustees of Williams College passed a resolution in January 2007, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to adopting the principles of sustainability as an institutional priority. A sustainability committee has been formed to manage climate action initiatives primarily focusing on energy- and emissions-related projects. The recently launched Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives has plans to hire a full-time director.
In December 2006, Williams completed a carbon emissions inventory and committed to updating this inventory annually. The college’s strategy for reducing emissions will include investing in renewable energy either directly or indirectly through the purchase of renewable energy credits, reducing energy consumption on campus through building and lighting retrofits, and switching to cleaner fuel options.
The college spends 17 percent of its annual food budget on local purchases from numerous local producers. Purchases include grass-fed beef and pork, fair-trade coffee and bananas, cage-free eggs, and organic produce. Williams has begun using reusable dishware and utensils for larger outdoor picnics. Dining services composts its food waste.
The college is currently pursuing LEED certification on a number of buildings in the design or construction phases. Many features of green building design have been incorporated in standard design practices, including life-cycle costing, energy modeling, low-flow toilets, construction waste management, and low-emitting materials.
Williams has four electric vehicles that are used by custodial and facilities maintenance personnel on campus. Campus parking areas are gradually being located to the perimeter of campus to discourage on-campus driving. The college fleet also includes several hybrid cars.
The college’s proxy voting record is available on a password-protected website, and both the voting record and a list of investment holdings are available to members of the college community at the investment office or the vice president’s office.
The college aims to optimize investment return and is invested in community development financial institutions or loan funds. Additionally, the college is exploring renewable energy investment funds or similar investment vehicles. The Williams Social Choice Fund allows individuals to direct donations to a special endowment fund that screens investments based on environmental and social criteria.
The Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility at Williams deliberates on and makes recommendations or decisions on proxy votes. The committee is comprised of two members from the following groups: faculty, administrators, students, and alumni.
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