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Report Card 2011

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St. Olaf College
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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St. Olaf College

School details:

  Grade lower than last year


Endowment: $248 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: Northfield, Minnesota


Campus Survey: No

Dining Survey: No

Endowment Survey: No

Student Survey: No


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  
The St. Olaf College Sustainability Task Force, headed by the vice president for facilities, has been instrumental in implementing several land and wetland restoration efforts. Many faculty members at the college dedicate a portion of their time to sustainability issues and have organized sustainability conferences.
The college has completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and satisfies 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, and uses the compost as a fertilizer on campus and at the farm. The cafeteria works to raise awareness of sustainable food choices, including 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 is St. Olaf’s first building to meet LEED Platinum standards, and includes features such 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, Natural Lands Workers, sustainability-themed honor houses, and the St. Olaf Environmental Coalition. The college also competes with other schools in a national energy conservation challenge.
Students can ride public transportation for free, and a local bus provides service to off-campus destinations on certain afternoons and evenings. A student group created Green Bikes, a free program that allows any member of the school community to pick up one of the clearly marked bicycles for use on campus. The program also offers free repair services and clinics. Some vehicles in the campus motor fleet run on biodiesel.
The college makes a list of endowment holdings and shareholder voting records available primarily to the school community, but also to the public. This information is available at the investment office.
The college aims to optimize investment returns, is currently invested in renewable energy funds and on-campus sustainability projects, and is exploring, but not currently invested in, community development loan funds.
The college asks that its investment managers handle the details of proxy voting.
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