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Report Card 2010

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Oberlin College
College Sustainability Report Card 2010

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Oberlin College

School details:

  Overall College Sustainability Leader

  Campus Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $534 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: Oberlin, Ohio

Enrollment: 2,744

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  
A -
The Committee on Environmental Sustainability developed an alternative transportation policy and is formulating a climate action plan. The Office of Environmental Sustainability employs a sustainability coordinator and maintains a detailed website. Oberlin's green purchasing policy mandates the purchase of Energy Star, Green Seal, and EPEAT products where possible.
Through an agreement with the local utility, Oberlin pays an additional $2 per megawatt-hour to purchase carbon-neutral electricity. A comprehensive steam trap and steam line replacement and repair program is being implemented to increase energy efficiency. Three campus buildings are served by geothermal heat pump systems.
As part of its Farm to Fork program, dining services allocates over half of its food budget to local items, including produce from 25 local farms and a local dairy. All milk and most chicken served is antibiotic- and hormone-free, and all seafood is sustainably caught. An electronics recycling program collected more than three tons of e-waste.
Oberlin stipulates that all new construction and major renovations on campus be designed and built in accordance with LEED Silver standards. Four campus buildings are currently registered for LEED Gold certification, and the university is experimenting with waterless urinals and compost toilets. Energy Star laundry machines are installed in 80 percent of laundry facilities.
Oberlin offers three different sustainability-themed housing options for students. The winning residence halls in the annual EcoLympics competition reduced their waste and energy use by between 20 and 50 percent. The student-initiated Green EDGE Fund finances environmental projects on campus and is administered by a board of one faculty member and five students.
Oberlin hosts two car-sharing vehicles and subsidizes membership costs for students. Bikes can be rented from the Bike Co-op, a collectively run bicycle repair and sales shop on campus. The college operates a student shuttle service at night.
The college makes a list of all endowment holdings available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community at the investment office. A list of votes cast on proxy resolutions on a company-specific level, including the number of shares, is available to the public at the investment office.
The college aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds, community development loan funds, and on-campus energy and water efficiency projects. Oberlin invests with one of the largest private equity investors in renewable energy. Donors can also direct gifts to a separate fund that only invests in environmental/sustainability investments.
An advisory committee with five students, one faculty member, one administrator, and one staff person makes proxy voting recommendations to the board of trustees.
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