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Report Card 2011

American University

Student Survey

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With the publication of the College Sustainability Report Card 2011, more than 1,100 school survey responses from over 300 institutions are now available online. In total, these surveys offer more than 10,000 pages of data collected from colleges and universities during the summer of 2010. To access surveys from other schools, go to the surveys section of the website. To see grades, or to access additional surveys submitted by this school, please click the "Back to Report Card" link at the beginning or end of the survey.

 

School name: American University

Date submitted: July 21, 2010



For each question, please choose the response that best represents the activities of your student organization. Some questions have additional instructions below the question. If you cannot find information for a particular question, please leave that question blank.

 

The response to this survey should be only in reference to one student organization. If there are multiple student organizations at a given school, each organization should complete its own survey. Only one survey should be submitted for each student organization at a particular school.

 

1)  Contact Information

 

The following fields designate the main contact person for your group.

Name: Jennifer Jones

School Name: American University

Name of student organization: Eco-Sense

Your position or title: President

 

2)  Student Organization

Please describe the student-run campus environmental/sustainability organization in which you have a leadership role. If you are a member of multiple organizations, you will be able to enter information about their activities on a later page.

Active members attend meetings and help implement the organization’s initiatives. Please describe event or email-listserv attendance under “Additional Comments.”

 

Number of active members:

70

Date of last meeting (mm/dd/yyyy):

April 29, 2010

Frequency of meetings:

Note: if you meet more than once a week, please select weekly.

Weekly

 

Key issues addressed and programs implemented since August 2009:

Use the categories below to help describe your group's initiatives in each area. In the "Describe" field, outline actions taken and elaborate on the impact and degree of success. You may want to compose your descriptions in Microsoft Word or a similar program and then paste them into the boxes provided. Please be detailed in your descriptions, and use the "Other" option to describe additional areas of involvement. You can also elaborate or add clarifying comments under "Additional Comments."

 

 

Addressed     

Progress           

Describe

Academics

Examples: Minor, major and concentration programs, curricular additions, research projects

[X]

Significant

Several Eco-Sense members conducted an investigation of the state of sustainability education at AU for the university to use in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). Spring Semester Eco-Sense planned a panel discussion on Gaia Theory and how to make sustainability a larger part of the science curriculum.

Administration

Examples: Procurement policies, institution-wide sustainability policy, advocating for sustainability-related staff positions

[X]

Significant

In August of 2009, AU hired Chris O’Brien as the Director of Sustainability. Eco-Sense members served on the Environmental Issues Project Team and played a significant role in encouraging the university to adopt a new purchasing policy, green building policy, zero waste policy, and no engine idling policy in the past year. Eco-Sense also works frequently with the university administration in running its Eco-Certification Program that trains and certifies campus offices in sustainable purchasing and office practices. This past spring, the President’s office was Eco-Certified.

Climate

Examples: Climate action plan, greenhouse gas emissions inventory

[X]

Significant

In May 2010, the AU’s Climate Action Project Team published the “American University: Carbon Neutral by 2020” report. Eco-Sense members served on the Climate Action Project team and provided input on the Climate Action Plan. Eco-Sense collected over 700 petitions urging for a plan that called for carbon neutrality by 2020 and successfully lobbied for the ambitious date. The Climate Action Plan was created to meet the requirements of the President’s Climate Commitment, which President Kerwin had signed because of Eco-Sense pressure in 2008. Eco-Sense promotes awareness about national and global climate issues by discussing current climate legislation at weekly meetings and bringing in speakers to discuss the Copenhagen conference. In the Fall of 2009, several Eco-Sense members took advantage of our location in the nation’s capital and attended hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee for the Environment and Public works regarding the Kerry-Boxer Climate Change Bill.

Endowment

Examples: Proxy voting guidelines, investment advisory committees

[X]

Moderate

American University has a portion of its endowment invested in offshore wind and solar projects in Maryland and Delaware. American University’s endowment is not invested in tobacco, alcohol, arms, or Burma.

Energy

Examples: Conservation/behavioral
change programs, retrofits and
efficiency improvements

[X]

Significant

This year, Eco-Sense and the Student Government Environmental Policy Department created the Clean Energy Revolving Fund (CERF) in order to raise money to bring renewable energy projects to AU’s campus. The fund currently has approximately $2,000 and is continuing to grow as fundraising efforts continue. In April 2010, a student ballot referendum indicated that two thirds of students wanted to pay a one-time fee of ten dollars to go to the CERF.

Food

Examples: Advocating for local, organic, or more sustainable food, campus gardening, food purchasing and ingredient guidelines

[X]

Significant

After a successful pilot earlier in the year, a farmers’ market became a weekly fixture; it enables the AU community to purchase locally-produced fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, and eggs. Eco-Sense has also built a strong relationship with the Bon Appetit Management Company, the main food provider on campus.  This past spring, Eco-Sense worked with the campus Bon Appetit administrators to conduct an inventory of the local and sustainable food purchases made by the company.   This year, due to Eco-Sense’s efforts the main campus dining hall began composting and implemented permanent trayless dining to reduce food waste. Additionally, Eco-Sense maintains a community garden to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs for the AU community. Bon Appetit has been very active in the ongoing maintenance of this garden and will begin to use produce from the garden in its meals in the next year.   Additionally, Eco-Sense partnered with Bon Appetit to hold an event in January 2010 at which a Bon Appetit representative taught the campus community about food sustainability, workers’ rights, and fair treatment for animals.  Working in collaboration with the Kennedy Political Union (an organization that brings political speakers to campus) Eco-Sense brought Robert Kenner, the director of Food Inc. to speak and talk with students at AU in the spring of 2010 and screened the movie.

 

Green Building

Examples: Design or construction policy

[X]

Significant

In April 2010, the new LEED Gold certified building that will house the School of International Service (SIS) at AU was opened. In order to unveil the new building, AU hosted William McDonough. He also spoke about Ecological Sanity and International Relations alongside SIS Dean Goodman at an event called “Waging Peace. ” A new green building policy has been adopted by AU’s administration that stipulates all new buildings on campus be at minimum LEED Silver certified.

Grounds and Maintenance

Examples: Green landscaping, non-toxic cleaners

[X]

Significant

Each year the campus community participates in a day of service called Campus Beautification day. On Campus Beautification Day students, faculty, and staff help beautify campus by planting trees, working in the community garden, and pulling invasive species. This year, Eco-Sense has developed a working relationship with the Facilities Management staff members in order to maintain the community garden.  The Facilities Management department has provided invaluable support, both financial and educational, in making Eco-Sense’s community garden a reality.

Student Involvement

Examples: Facilitating engagement with students, speaker series, establishing EcoReps program, student guide to sustainable living on campus

[X]

Significant

Eco-Sense is a tremendously respected and well-known group on AU’s campus. The group holds official meetings two nights per week, but generally holds several other events, both on and off campus, each week. As the student environmental sustainability organization, Eco-Sense works with the university administration to promote and create policies that will showcase the environmental sustainability commitments of the campus community.  Additionally, Eco-Sense works to make environmental sustainability a part of the lives of all students on campus and achieves this goal through bringing environmentally minded speakers to campus, holding off-campus community service events, and partnering with other student groups across campus to host and sponsor events.

Transportation

Examples: Promoting sustainable transportation, campus fleet improvements, connecting students with public transit

[X]

Significant

More bike racks were installed this year, and a program to include a metro card in the student ID began this year. A new No Idling Policy was adopted, cutting down on the amount of idling cars on campus. A bike rental program is run by student government to provide students with the ability to rent a bike on campus.

Waste Reduction

Examples: Recycling, composting,
reducing consumption

[X]

Significant

Eco-Sense played a leading role in the first Recyclemania competition at AU.  This year, due to Eco-Sense pressure, the main dinning hall began composting and default double-sided printing began in the library and in every computer lab on campus. Improvements were made on the signage for recycling bins. Recycling for plastic bags, batteries, ink cartridges, and cell phones was made accessible to all of campus.

Water

Examples: Water conservation, reducing campus pollution, bottled water campaigns

[X]

Significant

Eco-Sense launched an anti-bottled water campaign in November. The new Purchasing Policy adopted by the administration this year addressed bottled water policy first. In-line water filters are being installed in offices across campus, decreasing the amount of bottled water used in offices.

Other

[X]

Significant

Environmental Justice - Eco-Sense likes to highlight environmental justice issues by holding an event about an environmental justice issue. In Fall, Eco-Sense planned a panel discussion in order to raise awareness about the dangers of mountaintop removal in the Appalachian Mountains.

 

Additional Comments

The Eco-Certification program is a student run program that teaches offices to make environmentally friendly purchasing practices, office policies, and personal choices. The criteria was created by an Eco-Sense member and Eco-Sense members conduct the trainings and run the program. In March, Eco-Sense organized a clean energy referendum which asked students to support a one time 10 dollar fee for all students to fund bringing clean energy to campus. If implemented by the university, the fee would raise $60,000 for the Clean Energy Revolving Fund, a fund with a revolving mechanism that would raise money to bring clean energy projects to campus. The referendum passed with two thirds of the vote. Eco-Sense has continued to lobby for the implementation of the fee. Being in DC, Eco-Sense has a great opportunity to partner with organizations and participate in unique events. Eco-Sense members trick-or-treated at the embassies advocating for a treaty at Copenhagen. Eco-Sense members have attended hearing for climate bills in the Senate. In the spring, several hundred students attended and participated in the Climate Change episode of Jane Hall’s NPR show, which was recorded on AU’s campus.

 

3)  Sustainability Competitions and Challenges

This information should describe a campus challenge or competition organized by your group to promote sustainability. To add general information about your group, return to the previous questions.

 

First competition

 

Name of competition

Recyclemania

Frequency of competition

Annually

Year initiated

Even if the competition has not been held continually each year, enter the year it began.

2010

Groups involved in coordinating

If your group conducted the competition alone enter your group's name. Otherwise, enter other student groups, administrative offices, or faculty departments that assisted in implementation.

Eco-Sense, Facilities Management, Residence Hall Association, APO Community Service Fraternity, Department of Sustainability

               

Participants:

 

Students

[X]

Faculty

[X]

Staff

[X]

Other. Please describe.

 

Incentives/Rewards:

Describe how students, faculty, and/or staff were encouraged to participate in the competition. How were they notified and enticed to join the competition? What was the “prize” or reward for which they were competing?

Students, faculty, and staff were notified through e-mail and through posters around campus. Residence halls were encouraged to compete against each other in order to reduce waste.

 

Goals of competition:

Describe the sustainability-related goal of the competition (e.g. conserve electricity, water, reduce waste, increase recycling rates).

 

Energy conservation

[  ]

Waste reduction

[X]

Water conservation

[  ]

Other. Please describe

 

Percent of energy/water/waste reduced (describe):

Describe both the raw savings, and the savings as compared to use before the competition. For example, an electricity-saving competition may have encouraged a dorm to conserve 6,000 kW/h of electricity for the month of April, a savings of 5% from the same month last year.

AU won 3rd place in the Grand Champion division which is a competition of percentage of recycling in over all waste.

 

Lasting effects of competition:

Describe other impacts and effects. What are observable changes in campus behavior even after the competition’s completion? Have other efforts towards sustainability been given added momentum? Has the competition inspired other campaigns or initiatives?

In order to do the Recyclemania competition AU had to considerably improve the tracking methods for waste quantifying. The university did an inventory of all of the recycle bins on campus and ensured that there were recycle bins at all locations. AU increased signage about recycling. AU also began composting and increased access to battery, cellphone, ink cartridge, and plastic bag recycling.

 

Website:

http://recyclemaniacs.org/index.htm

 

Second competition

 

Name of competition

Frequency of competition

Year initiated

Even if the competition has not been held continually each year, enter the year it began.

Groups involved in coordinating

If your group conducted the competition alone enter your group's name. Otherwise, enter other student groups, administrative offices, or faculty departments that assisted in implementation.

               

Participants:

 

Students

[  ]

Faculty

[  ]

Staff

[  ]

Other. Please describe.

 

Incentives/Rewards:

Describe how students, faculty, and/or staff were encouraged to participate in the competition. How were they notified and enticed to join the competition? What was the “prize” or reward for which they were competing?

 

Goals of competition:

Describe the sustainability-related goal of the competition (e.g. conserve electricity, water, reduce waste, increase recycling rates).

 

Energy conservation

[  ]

Waste reduction

[  ]

Water conservation

[  ]

Other. Please describe

 

Percent of energy/water/waste reduced (describe):

Describe both the raw savings, and the savings as compared to use before the competition. For example, an electricity-saving competition may have encouraged a dorm to conserve 6,000 kW/h of electricity for the month of April, a savings of 5% from the same month last year.

 

Lasting effects of competition:

Describe other impacts and effects. What are observable changes in campus behavior even after the competition’s completion? Have other efforts towards sustainability been given added momentum? Has the competition inspired other campaigns or initiatives?

 

Website:

 

Third competition

 

Name of competition

Frequency of competition

Year initiated

Even if the competition has not been held continually each year, enter the year it began.

Groups involved in coordinating

If your group conducted the competition alone enter your group's name. Otherwise, enter other student groups, administrative offices, or faculty departments that assisted in implementation.

               

Participants:

 

Students

[  ]

Faculty

[  ]

Staff

[  ]

Other. Please describe.

 

Incentives/Rewards:

Describe how students, faculty, and/or staff were encouraged to participate in the competition. How were they notified and enticed to join the competition? What was the “prize” or reward for which they were competing?

 

Goals of competition:

Describe the sustainability-related goal of the competition (e.g. conserve electricity, water, reduce waste, increase recycling rates).

 

Energy conservation

[  ]

Waste reduction

[  ]

Water conservation

[  ]

Other. Please describe

 

Percent of energy/water/waste reduced (describe):

Describe both the raw savings, and the savings as compared to use before the competition. For example, an electricity-saving competition may have encouraged a dorm to conserve 6,000 kW/h of electricity for the month of April, a savings of 5% from the same month last year.

 

Lasting effects of competition:

Describe other impacts and effects. What are observable changes in campus behavior even after the competition’s completion? Have other efforts towards sustainability been given added momentum? Has the competition inspired other campaigns or initiatives?

 

Website:

                               

4)  Sustainability in Student Government and Other Activities

Please describe the role of Student Government and other groups.

 

Does your student government include a specific position or committee dedicated to campus sustainability issues?

Yes

 

If yes. Please describe below:

Include the following: How many students are active in the committee? How often does it meet? What kinds of power and decision-making ability does it have? What impacts and initiatives has it undertaken? What kind of working relationship does it have with other student groups and the administration?

American University Student Government has a Department of Environmental Policy. Currently there are three positions in the department, one director and two deputies. The Department of Environmental Policy's job is to help make the student government more sustainable, and to help make the campus more sustainable as a whole. Last year the Department of Environmental Policy was instrumental in the creation of the Clean Energy Revolving Fund, a fund that gives money to building clean energy projects on campus. The Department of Environmental Policy is also a leader in fundraising for the fund and has advised Student Government on how to make their events more sustainable.

 

Please describe any additional campus sustainability activities or projects that you or your group has initiated at your school:

Describe any activities that your group or yourself, as a leader on campus, have undertaken that are not already included in your survey responses. If applicable, also describe off-campus and community efforts that relate to institutional sustainability at your school.

Eco-Sense participates in community service every week planting trees, cleaning up parks, or canvassing advocating for weatherization of local houses. Eco-Sense also runs a program in which students clean used biology slides and test tubes in order to donate them to middle schools in DC.

 

 

Please Note: The following is for informational purposes only; your response will NOT be included in the Report Card evaluation process.

 

Please list any regional or national networks with which your group is affiliated (e.g., Energy Action Coalition/Campus Climate Challenge, Sierra Student Coalition, a state PIRG, a state student sustainability coalition):

Eco-Sense is an student-run organization. Over the past year we have worked with Chessapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, Casey Trees, Energy Action Coalition, DC Surfrider, Food and Water Watch, Bon Appetit, Sustain Us, and Anacostia Watershed Society.

 

 

 

 

 

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