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Report Card 2011

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Columbia University
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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Columbia University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $5,893 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: New York, New York


Campus Survey: No

Dining Survey: No

Endowment Survey: No

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


Please note: This school did not respond to any of the three administrator surveys. The data used for both the profile and grading was compiled from independent research. For more information on data collection and evaluation, please see the Methodology section.  


Please note: Data was collected in summer 2010 and may no longer be current.


Data compiled from survey responses, when available, and from independent research, when needed. For more information on data collection and evaluation, please see the  Methodology section.

Overall grade  
B +
Columbia University’s Office of Environmental Stewardship employs four full-time staff. Energy Star appliances are purchased whenever possible; all napkins are made from recycled material; and many cleaning products are Green Seal certified. Furniture purchases take cradle-to-cradle specifications into account.
Columbia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2017. The university has installed lighting retrofits in nearly all buildings, including some LED lights and automatic shut-off mechanisms, as well as a heat recovery system, upgraded fume hoods, and insulated windows. The Cool Columbia Campaign conducts energy audits in off-campus homes and provides appliance upgrades.
Dining services spends 36 percent of its food budget on local products. John Jay dining hall serves sustainably harvested seafood and is trayless. Exclusively fair trade coffee is served on campus. Food waste audits are conducted monthly, and students’ unwanted items at the end of the year are donated or sold back to students the following fall.
All new buildings are built to LEED Silver standards, and four campus buildings are LEED certified or meet LEED criteria. The school has also conducted green renovations and repurposed existing spaces for alternative use. Dual-flush toilets, low-flow fixtures, and efficient laundry machines reduce campus water use, and the campus features two green roofs and a green roof research center.
Students living in the GreenBorough house experiment with sustainable living. Student groups have worked on a green purchasing policy, an energy-saving competition, the distribution of efficient lightbulbs, and a community garden, among other initiatives. Eco-reps host events to raise awareness and improve the environmental habits of their peers.
To encourage sustainable commuting methods, parking on campus is limited, and the university assists in carpool matching. Employees may purchase mass transit tickets with pretax dollars. Columbia also provides a free shuttle between campuses and one at night. Employees and students can join a car-sharing program at a reduced rate, and the university offers discounts on bike locks.
The university makes a list of equity holdings available to all members of the school community at the investment office. Proxy voting records on a company-specific level, including the number of shares, are available to the school community on a password-protected website.
The university aims to optimize investment returns and is currently invested in certain funds with targeted investments in renewable energy.
The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which includes 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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