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Report Card 2009

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Cornell University
College Sustainability Report Card 2009

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Cornell University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year

  Campus Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $6,123 million as of June 30, 2008

Location: Ithaca, New York

Enrollment: 19,518

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 Skorton signed the Presidents Climate Commitment. The university employs two full-time sustainability coordinators, as well as several full- and part-time staff dedicated to sustainability efforts. The university's Green Purchasing Task Force promotes green purchases of energy, computers, office furniture, and supplies.
Cornell was one of the first schools to commit to the Kyoto Protocol. The university uses the cold, deep water of Cayuga Lake to serve campus cooling needs, reducing annual carbon emissions by 10,000 tons. Through the Energy Conservation Initiative, the university aims to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent from 2000 levels. Cornell also has installed solar panels in four locations.
Cornell dining services contracts with a vendor who sources produce from 15 local farms. The university buys apples from Cornell Orchards and dairy products from the Cornell Dairy. A student-run farm supplies fresh basil and organic produce. A variety of fair trade items are also available. Dining locations offer a discount for bringing reusable mugs, and there are comprehensive composting and recycling programs.
Cornell has a policy that all new building projects costing $5 million or more attain LEED Silver certification, at a minimum, and operate at least 30 percent below current energy codes. There are presently seven LEED-registered buildings and one LEED-certified building on campus.
Sustainability Hub is a student organization that aims to coordinate the many different student groups and sustainability initiatives on campus. A team from Cornell participated in the Solar Decathlon competition.
The university has pledged to donate $1 million annually to support local transportation projects. Faculty, staff, and new students ride free on local transit, and existing students receive significant discounts. The university's farm services department uses 20 percent biodiesel fuel, and the university owns nine electric vehicles.
The university makes its proxy voting record and a list of endowment holdings available to all members of the school community, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This information is available at the investment office.
The university is currently invested in renewable energy funds. Cornell is in the process of considering new investment managers that take sustainability and environmental factors into account.
Investment managers vote proxies according to university guidelines, which require consideration of the social and environmental aspects of investments. At times, the president may establish an ad hoc group, comprised of senior administrators, faculty, students, and staff and/or alumni, to communicate concerns to the board of trustees.
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