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Report Card 2009

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American University
College Sustainability Report Card 2009

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American University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $397 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Enrollment: 11,192

Type: Private


Campus Survey: Yes

Dining Survey: Yes

Endowment Survey: Yes


Data compiled from independent research and survey responses from schools. For information on data collection and evaluation, please see the Methodology  section.

Overall grade  
B -
President Kerwin signed the Presidents Climate Commitment and the university is a signatory to the Talloires Declaration. As part of their emerging sustainability program, the school has a manager of sustainability programs and is creating a new position for a director of sustainability. The Environmental Issues Project Team advises the administration on sustainability issues.
The university purchases renewable energy certificates to offset almost 25 percent of campus electrical usage and has an internal $300,000 revolving fund for annual energy efficiency initiatives. Recent projects have included upgrades to lighting and mechanical systems. A carbon emissions inventory is underway.
Dining services spends $120,000 annually on food from a farmers co-op and from five local, independent growers. Dining halls serve fair trade coffee and cage-free eggs. A reusable plastic basket has been introduced as an alternative to disposable to-go containers, and Styrofoam has been eliminated from all operations. AU's recycling program has a 43 percent diversion rate.
The university incorporates LEED and other green building principals into all renovation and construction projects. The campus currently has 30 buildings registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED-EB certification. A new construction project is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.
The student group EcoSense has attempted to increase sustainability efforts on campus via a combination of traditional activist events, such as Eco-Week, and directly lobbying the administration, including a successful campaign to increase the school's renewable energy purchases. New student orientation includes opportunities to participate in environmental projects in the local community.
University policy requires that alternative-fuel vehicles be given purchasing preference, and the campus currently has several electric vehicles. The university runs an extensive shuttle service through campus and to local metro stops. Transportation services offers a carpool parking pass that can be shared with up to four cars. There is also a commercial car-sharing program on campus.
The university makes neither a list of endowment holdings nor its shareholder voting record public. Information on endowment holdings is available only to trustees and senior administrators.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds.
University owns no individual equity shares and therefore has no right to vote the proxies.
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