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Report Card 2007

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Columbia University
College Sustainability Report Card 2007

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Columbia University

School details:

Endowment: $5,900 million as of June 30, 2006

Location: New York, New York


Campus Survey: Yes

Endowment Survey: Yes


Data compiled from independent research. For information on data collection and evaluation, please see the Methods section.

Overall grade  
The University established the Office of Environmental Stewardship in 2006 and will be setting up a Sustainability Advisory Committee of students, staff, and faculty to supplement the previously established Environmental Stewardship Task Force. Columbia is known for strong academic research and programs on earth and environmental sciences, including the world-renowned Earth Institute.
Columbia is examining purchasing renewable and alternative energy credits for a portion of its energy needs and participating in a demand response program. Nearly all buildings owned by the University are undergoing an energy audit to look for potential savings and increased energy efficiency. Meters and submeters at two campuses will be added and updated to collect data on real energy patterns, and the University is developing programs to reduce and monitor energy consumption based on these new data. A biodiesel program is also being developed.
Housing and dining services prioritize local, organic, and fair-trade certified purchasing, and a successful organic student co-op was opened in one dining hall. A seasonal menu is planned based on the availability of local produce, and dining services is working with Green Forest, a sustainability consultant, to develop a better recycling program. A composting program is also being developed. All the dining halls’ unused food is sent to City Harvest, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in New York City.
Columbia is a new member of the U.S. Green Buildings Council and is utilizing LEED strategies as a planning tool, with the intention of registering new construction for LEED certification. The University has been upgrading its lighting systems for the past 15 years and has retrofitted its water infrastructure in order to maintain more efficient facilities
The University makes its proxy voting record available to members of the university community, such as faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and is accessible on the university website with password protection. Only publicly-traded holdings are made available to the university community and are accessible with presentation of university identification. Other information, such as privately held companies, is only available to trustees and senior administrators.
The University prioritizes investing to maximize profit and has not investigated investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.
At community hearings, the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, formed in 2000, receives input from the University community on a variety of issues including environmental and human rights issues. The ACSRI then advises the Trustees Subcommittee on Shareholder Responsibility to make decisions on proxies.
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