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Report Card 2009

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Columbia University
College Sustainability Report Card 2009

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Columbia University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year

  Overall College Sustainability Leader

  Campus Sustainability Leader

  Endowment Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $7,150 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: New York, New York

Enrollment: 21,648

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  
A -
Columbia joined Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC Challenge, pledging to decrease carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2017. The Office of Environmental Stewardship (OES) has four full-time and several part-time staff, and the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee develops policy recommendations and sustainability principles.
The university has instituted a policy to reduce heating and cooling energy consumption and is launching a computerized building management system to do so. The Cool Columbia campaign conducts energy audits in off-campus housing, provides energy-efficient appliance upgrades, and encourages residents to pledge to take three steps to reduce their energy consumption.
Columbia sources 16 percent of its purchases locally. An organic student co-op in one dining hall sells campus-grown produce, and fair trade coffee is served at all venues. The campus also hosts a farmers market twice a week. To-go containers are biodegradable, and a reusable mug program offers a discount to participants.
Columbia requires construction projects to meet LEED Silver standards, and currently has registered five LEED projects. The Manhattanville expansion plan is in the LEED for Neighborhood Development program. In fall 2008, Columbia will launch its first green dorm, which features a new energy-efficient boiler, efficient windows, and an energy monitoring system.
Sustainability-related opportunities for students include a paid undergraduate Eco-Reps program and internships in the Office of Environmental Stewardship. There is also a volunteer Eco-Reps program at the medical campus. The Green Umbrella is a collaborative between environmental student groups. Students earn rewards for recycling through the RecycleBank program.
The university community is served by an inter-campus shuttle and is located near major subway and bus stations. Employees may purchase mass transit tickets with pretax dollars, and the university is also adopting a new telecommuting policy.
The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing makes its meeting minutes and annual reports available to the public online. Proxy voting records are available to the campus community through a password-protected site. A list of endowment holdings is available at the investment office.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds.
Students, faculty, and alumni serve on Columbia’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which makes proxy voting recommendations to the board. The committee also hosts an annual town hall meeting at which the school community can voice its opinion on issues facing the committee or issues that the committee should address.
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