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Report Card 2010

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Columbia University
College Sustainability Report Card 2010

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Columbia University

School details:

  Grade lower than last year

  Endowment Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $5,700 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: New York, New York

Enrollment: 20,295

Type: Private


Campus Survey: Yes (see response)

Dining Survey: Yes (see response)

Endowment Survey: Yes (see response)

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


Data compiled from independent research. For information on data collection and evaluation, please see the Methods section.

Overall grade  
The Office of Environmental Stewardship employs four full-time staff, and the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee includes faculty, staff, and students. The university purchases only Energy Star-qualified appliances and mostly Green Seal-certified cleaning products.
Columbia is committed to reducing carbon emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2017. The university has completed energy audits and created a plan for efficiency projects. Lighting has been replaced, and fume hoods have been upgraded. A policy mandates indoor space temperature set points to conserve energy. Through the Cool Columbia Campaign, the university conducts energy audits in off-campus housing.
Columbia spends 38 percent of its annual food budget on local items. All seafood is purchased in accordance with sustainability guidelines, and coffee is locally roasted, fair trade, and organic. A discount is offered for bringing a reusable mug. All waste cooking oil is converted into biodiesel. Recycling is available for traditional items and electronic waste, and used items are collected for donation during move-out.
Columbia uses LEED standards as a guideline for building design and construction. There are 14 LEED-certified buildings on campus, and the new Manhattanville campus is part of the LEED-ND pilot program. Motion sensors and ambient light sensors have been installed in some buildings, as have low-flow faucets and showerheads, dual-flush toilets, and water- and energy-efficient laundry units. The campus features seven green roofs.
A student-run residential community, GreenBorough, began in 2009. Students employed through the campus Eco-Rep program offer peer-to-peer education in the residence halls. Many student organizations focused on environment and sustainability are organized under the Green Umbrella, which has worked to implement a new recycling center on campus and ran a campaign to reduce students' energy, water, and food waste.
Employees may purchase public transit tickets with pretax dollars. An inter-campus shuttle bus runs continuously among Columbia's three campuses, and a nightly shuttle runs as well. The university partners with a car-sharing program, and parking options are limited.
The university makes a list of equity holdings, including the number of shares, available to all members of the school community at the investment office. Proxy voting records on a company-specific level are available to the school community through a password-protected website.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in certain funds with targeted investments in renewable energy.
The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, including students, faculty, and alumni, makes proxy voting recommendations to the board of trustees. The school community may voice opinions on social and corporate governance issues at annual town hall meetings hosted by the committee, or by submitting feedback through the committee's website.
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