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Report Card 2011

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Pennsylvania State University
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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Pennsylvania State University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $1,226 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: University Park, Pennsylvania


Campus Survey: Yes (see response)

Dining Survey: Yes (see response)

Endowment Survey: No

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  
B +
In April 2009, Penn State became the first major American university to join the EPA's Sustainability Partnership Program. The university has three committees, as well as the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Center for Sustainability, to guide its sustainability initiatives. Penn State purchases as many Energy Star-certified products as possible, biorenewable cleaning products, and electronics that meet EPEAT standards.
Penn State has completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and is committed to an 8 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2012. The university has so far achieved a 2 percent reduction in carbon emissions and purchases renewable energy credits that represent 25 percent of campus electricity use.
The university purchases food directly from 20 local farms and 48 local processors. Most dairy products are hormone free, and some seafood purchases conform to sustainable fisheries guidelines. At all meals, preconsumer food scraps are composted and excess perishable food is donated to Meals on Wheels.
Penn State has adopted a green building policy and currently has seven LEED-certified buildings on campus: two at the Certified level, three Silver, and two Gold. Since 2000, the university has renovated more than 150,000 square feet for adaptive reuse and, to conserve water, has installed low-flow faucets, showerheads, toilets, and urinals. To manage stormwater, living roofs, porous pavement, and vegetated swales are used.
The Earth House provides a living-learning opportunity for students to explore environmental and agricultural issues, and numerous student groups work toward sustainability on campus. The university employs 3 paid sustainability interns and 26 eco-reps to further environmental initiatives, and hosts energy and recycling challenges to encourage conservation and behavioral change.
The campus fleet includes hybrid, electric, and compressed natural gas vehicles. The university also facilitates carpooling arrangements and provides a free bus that services the campus and surrounding areas. Penn State's bicycle master plan aims to support the development of a bike- and pedestrian-friendly campus.
The university makes a list of all holdings available to the public at the investment office per open records law. The university does not make its shareholder voting record public.
The university aims to optimize investment returns and is currently invested in renewable energy funds.
The university provides its investment managers with general guidelines that determine its proxy votes.
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