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Report Card 2011

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Oberlin College
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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Oberlin College

School details:

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Endowment: $633 million as of March 31, 2010

Location: Oberlin, Ohio


Campus Survey: Yes (see response)

Dining Survey: Yes (see response)

Endowment Survey: Yes (see response)

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


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  
Oberlin College's master plan identifies sustainability as a key strategic direction, and the Committee on Environmental Sustainability has drafted a climate action plan. The college employs a full-time sustainability fellow. Additionally, the Green EDGE revolving loan and sustainability grant funds, and EnviroAlums alumni fund, help finance on-campus sustainability projects.
Oberlin aims to be carbon neutral by 2025. Numerous energy efficiency technologies have been installed, including energy management systems and lighting upgrades. The college has installed two solar arrays and heats three buildings with geothermal pump systems. Forty percent of electricity purchased for the campus comes from renewable energy sources.
Dining services spends approximately 22 percent of its food budget on local products. Fair trade, confinement-free, vegetarian-fed, and hormone- and antibiotic-free food products are regularly served in dining locations, as is sustainably harvested seafood. Oberlin offers discounts for using mugs and reusable to-go containers and has eliminated the sale of bottled water on campus to reduce the amount of plastic going to the landfill.
Oberlin mandates that all new building projects and major renovations meet LEED Silver standards. Williams Field House is LEED Gold certified, and four other buildings on campus meet LEED criteria. The college has installed water conservation technologies such as low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets, and a greywater system.
Oberlin offers three different sustainability-themed housing options for students. Ten student interns, who comprise the Resource Conservation Team, manage the Freestore, a yearlong materials exchange program, as well as a move-out waste reduction initiative. Two annual competitions encourage energy conservation and waste reduction in the residence halls.
Oberlin partners with a car-sharing program and subsidizes membership costs for students. Bikes can be rented from the Bike Co-op, a bicycle repair and sales shop on campus. The college operates a free shuttle service at night and provides occasional bus service to shopping and entertainment destinations.
The college makes information about all holdings available to trustees and senior administrators. A list of votes cast on proxy resolutions on a company-specific level is accessible on a password-protected website to the school community and is available to the public at the investment office.
The college aims to optimize investment returns, and the endowment is currently invested in renewable energy funds, community development loan funds, and on-campus efficiency projects. The college also uses investment managers who consider environmental and sustainability factors. Donors can request that gifts be directed into environmentally and socially responsible investment options.
An advisory committee with five students, one faculty member, one administrator, and one staff member makes proxy voting recommendations to the board of trustees.
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