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Report Card 2009

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University of Southern California
College Sustainability Report Card 2009

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University of Southern California

School details:

Endowment: $3,715 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: Los Angeles, California

Enrollment: 32,160

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  
C +
A course is offered to all University of Southern California employees to provide them with an overview of sustainability as it relates to their everyday activities. A full-time director of sustainability is supported by staff in multiple departments. The Operations Sustainability Council advises the Sustainability Steering Committee on implementing administrative changes to support institutional sustainability.
The university purchases a portion of its electricity from renewable sources. Old lighting fixtures are being replaced with new, energy-efficient models, and timers and motion sensors have been installed to save energy. Energy Star appliances are purchased, and a centralized, thermal storage chilled water plant is used for cooling approximately 40 buildings. Five potential solar energy projects are being actively explored.
The university hosts a weekly farmers market on campus and sells certified organic produce. Food is purchased from 12 local farms and producers, and fish comes from sustainable sources. USC is eliminating tray service from the dining halls in order to cut down on waste.
Sustainability guidelines are included in the master plan as a framework for campus development through 2030. LEED guidelines are followed for new construction. Designs of three new building projects aim to meet LEED Silver certification standards and university staff members are LEED accredited.
Town hall meetings are held on campus, which allows students to participate in the Sustainability Steering Committee with faculty and staff. Environment First is a student group active in promoting a farmers market on campus.
The university subsidizes 1,650 public transit passes for faculty, staff, and students. Parking for carpoolers is offered at a discounted rate. The university sells B20 biodiesel fuel at its own fuel station. A total of 20 vanpool vehicles are operated in conjunction with a rideshare partner.
The university makes a list of endowment holdings and proxy voting records available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community. This information is sent individuals upon request.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds.
Most of the endowment is invested in mutual funds or other commingled investment vehicles. For separately managed accounts, the university asks its investment managers to handle the details of proxy voting. Many of the investment managers use a proxy voting service that typically votes in favor of proposals that require a company to report on policies and initiatives related to social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
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