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Report Card 2010

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St. Olaf College
College Sustainability Report Card 2010

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St. Olaf College

School details:

  Grade lower than last year


Endowment: $325 million as of June 30, 2008

Location: Northfield, Minnesota

Enrollment: 3,125

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  
C +
Many professors at St. Olaf dedicate a portion of their time to sustainability issues and have organized sustainability conferences. The college has a sustainability task force headed by the vice president for facilities. The task force has been instrumental in implementing several of the college’s land and wetland restoration efforts.
The college has completed a carbon emissions inventory and generates one-third of its electrical needs with an on-campus wind turbine. To increase energy efficiency, St. Olaf uses highly insulating materials for re-roofing projects. A high-efficiency boiler was added at the central plant in 2007 to better match light seasonal steam loads, thus increasing year-round efficiency.
Dining services sources produce and herbs from an on-campus farm run by the St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works project. The college composts all food waste, nearly 175 tons annually. The compost is then used as a fertilizer on campus and at the farm. The cafeteria also featured a day of low-carbon food. St. Olaf purchases dairy from a farmer-owned, no-chemical operation as well as beef from a local grass-fed cattle ranch. Dining halls offer fair trade coffee.
The college has sustainable design guidelines built into contracts with architects, construction firms, and engineers. The Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences was created with a plan of being St. Olaf’s first building to meet LEED Platinum standards, and includes such features as a green roof and concrete made from 9 million pounds of fly ash that was diverted from landfills.
St. Olaf students can participate in any of eight environmental organizations on campus, including the Wendell Berry House, Naturals Lands Workers, sustainability-themed honor houses, and the St. Olaf Environmental Coalition. The latter has 30 active members and organized an Earth Week Fair that brought together the campus and local community for tree planting and an outdoor fair. The college also participates in a national energy challenge, competing with other schools to conserve energy. An environmental senator within the student government evaluates capital proposals by the student government for their environmental impact.
Students can ride public transportation for free, and a local bus provides service to off-campus destinations on certain evenings and afternoons. A student group created a free bike program that allows any member of the school community to pick up one of the clearly marked bicycles for use on campus.
The college makes a list of endowment holdings and shareholder voting records primarily available to the school community, but also to the public. This information is available at the investment office.
The college aims to optimize investment return, is currently invested in renewable energy funds and is exploring, but not currently invested in, community development loan funds.
A member of the college administration determines proxy votes.
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