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Report Card 2011

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University of Minnesota
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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University of Minnesota

School details:

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Endowment: $861 million as of March 31, 2010

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota


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  
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents adopted a sustainability and environmental policy in 2004. Numerous sustainability committees on campus have addressed issues such as transportation, waste reduction, and energy and water conservation. More than 20 staff devote a portion of their efforts to sustainability, and the university requires the purchase of energy-efficient appliances, computers, electronics, and lighting.
UMN has reduced greenhouse gas emissions 5 percent since 1998 despite an 18 percent increase in high-energy research building space. Building energy consumption has decreased nearly 9 percent since 2005. Numerous energy efficiency technologies have been installed, including a cogeneration facility, energy management systems, and lighting retrofits. The university generates approximately 3 percent of its energy from burning oat hulls for biofuel.
Dining services purchases local and organic food items as well as cage-free eggs, fair trade products, grass-fed beef, hormone-free milk, and seafood that meets sustainable harvest guidelines. Students receive discounts for using reusable bags, mugs, and to-go containers. Dining facilities compost 30 tons of pre- and postconsumer food waste each month, and the university has committed to increasing waste diversion rates 5 percent by 2012 through improved recycling.
For public institutions, the state of Minnesota has set specific green building guidelines that are approximately equivalent to LEED Silver certification criteria. The TCF Stadium is LEED Silver certified, and three other buildings on campus meet LEED criteria. The campus has installed water-saving technologies, and construction projects divert 60 percent of waste for reuse and recycling.
There are at least 16 sustainability-themed student groups at UMN, including Active Energy Club, Green Biz, and EcoWatch. First-year students learn about green initiatives and resources during orientation and have the option of living in a sustainability-themed hallway. A student-run organic farm grows more than 100 varieties of produce.
The UMN fleet includes approximately 200 alternative-fuel vehicles. Preferable parking is offered to carpoolers, and the Upass and Metropass programs offer public transit discounts to students and employees. Car-sharing and bike-sharing programs help reduce traffic on campus.
The university makes a list of external managers, as well as a list of votes cast on proxy resolutions on a company-specific level, available to the public upon request per open records law.
The university aims to optimize investment returns, and the endowment is currently invested in renewable energy funds and on-campus sustainability projects. An assets management team reviews investments to ensure consistency with university values and ethics.
The Social Concerns Committee, which includes administrators, alumni, staff, faculty, and students, annually reviews and recommends votes for shareholder resolutions concerning social issues.
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