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Report Card 2009

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Pennsylvania State University
College Sustainability Report Card 2009

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Pennsylvania State University

School details:

  Campus Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $1,590 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: University Park, Pennsylvania

Enrollment: 41,289

Type: Public


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  
Pennsylvania State University has hired a new sustainability manager and a sustainability supporter that work with the Environmental Key Initiative Team to integrate environmental stewardship into university operations. Purchasing identifies environmentally friendly products, and staff aim to make sustainability every employee’s responsibility.
Penn State has completed a greenhouse gas inventory and is committed to reducing emissions 17 percent by 2012. As part of its green power partnership, the school purchases 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Students participate in the Friday Night Lights Out program by turning off lights in public areas.
Dining services purchases locally produced milk, some fair trade coffee, and a few organic items. A biodegradable to-go container was introduced into dining halls, and the reusable mug program has been expanded. Penn State has a comprehensive recycling program, including a pilot program for plastic bags. All food scraps and leaves are composted.
According to a new physical plant building policy, all new or renovated buildings must be LEED-certified, pursuing Silver certification, at a minimum. Penn State has three LEED-certified buildings, including the first certified stadium, and six other projects awaiting certification. Thirty-two buildings are being retrofitted by an energy service program.
Student groups, such as Eco-Action, work on a number of sustainability initiatives, and several students are represented on the Green Destiny Council. Penn State has hosted Environmental Colloquiums for four years, bringing environmental speakers to campus. Students may participate in three internship programs focused on sustainability.
The university continues to add alternative-fuel vehicles to its fleet, including hydrogen, hybrids, and natural gas. A free shuttle bus offers access to the public bus service, for which discounted monthly programs are available. Campus planning will result in a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly campus by limiting automobile access on campus roads.
The university makes a list of endowment holdings available at the investment office to all members of the school community, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Proxy voting records are not made public.
The university aims to optimize investment returns and does not invest in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.
The university provides its investment managers with guidelines that determine its proxy votes.
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