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Report Card 2010

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Cornell University
College Sustainability Report Card 2010

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Cornell University

School details:

  Grade lower than last year


Endowment: $5,385 million as of June 30, 2008

Location: Ithaca, New York

Enrollment: 20,534

Type: Private


Campus Survey: No

Dining Survey: No

Endowment Survey: No

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


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

Overall grade  
Cornell aims to integrate sustainability into all campus operations. Multiple committees work to achieve this goal and, in total, Cornell employs over 25 full-time sustainability staff. The university has published a comprehensive sustainability action plan, and the Green Purchasing Task Force is working to implement green procurement strategies.
A new combined heat and power facility will reduce carbon emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels. A cogeneration facility meets 15 percent of campus electrical needs, and a university-run hydroelectric plant provides an additional 2 percent. Lake-source cooling is used to air condition campus buildings, using 13 percent of the energy needed for conventional systems. Cornell recently completed lighting retrofits in 20 buildings and an HVAC renovation.
Cornell purchases over 20 percent of produce from local and regional sources, including a student-run, organic farm. The university serves exclusively fair trade coffee and composts preconsumer food scraps and landscaping waste. Two dining halls are trayless, and the university diverts 57 percent of recyclable materials from the waste stream.
Cornell's Green Building Oversight Committee created sustainable design guidelines, and the university aims to achieve LEED Silver certification and 30 percent increased energy efficiency for construction projects. Two buildings on campus are LEED-certified, one is LEED Gold, and occupancy sensors have been installed for lighting and HVAC systems. Plumbing retrofits have reduced water consumption by 18 percent.
More than 15 student organizations at Cornell focus on sustainability. The Sustainability Hub connects green student groups and runs a variety of campaigns to promote sustainability in campus operations and investment practices. The student assembly has an environmental committee, and Engineers for a Sustainable World has organized challenges to encourage resource conservation. Residents of the Eco House share a commitment to environmental stewardship, and Cornell employs two student sustainability coordinators.
All faculty, staff, and new students receive free bus passes, and returning students receive discounted passes. Cornell and other local partners recently launched a new vanpool program. Cornell offers incentives to commuters to use environmentally preferable modes of travel, including discounted car-sharing memberships.
The university makes its proxy voting record and a list of endowment holdings available at the investment office to all members of the school community.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds.
Investment managers vote proxies according to university guidelines, which require consideration of the social and environmental aspects of investments. The president has established an ad hoc group, comprised of administrators, faculty, students, staff, and alumni, to communicate concerns to the board of trustees.
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