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Report Card 2008

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Columbia University
College Sustainability Report Card 2008

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Columbia University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


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

Location: New York, New York


Campus Survey: Yes

Dining Survey: Yes

Endowment Survey: Yes


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

Overall grade  
B +
Columbia University has created the department of environmental stewardship, hired four full-time staff members, and is setting up a sustainability advisory committee of students, faculty, and staff. Eco-Reps, who serve as undergraduate “green” RAs, organized the Green Living Challenge for dorm residents last year.
As a participant in the mayor of New York City’s Challenge Partner Program, Columbia recently committed to a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the next ten years. The university instituted an indoor space temperature policy last year, which mandates a heating season temperature of 68 degrees and a cooling season temperature of 76 degrees. Meters have been installed on each building at the main campus and two satellite campuses to better monitor electricity usage.
Columbia currently purchases dairy products, fruit, and vegetables from local vendors and farms. Fair-trade coffee is served in all venues, which makes Columbia the only university in New York City to provide fair-trade coffee at every location. A surplus reuse program is being established to take surplus furniture, equipment, and computers and place them internally or with local community-based nonprofits.
The university is currently undertaking three large construction projects, all of which are LEED registered. At least two other projects are anticipated to be registered in the next year. The university is participating in the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program for its proposed expansion. Most Columbia buildings have been converted to low-flow plumbing. Efficient water heaters, compact fluorescent lights, and lighting timers have been installed.
The university provides a shuttle service amongst and between its campuses using low-sulfur diesel buses, and the public safety fleet includes four hybrid cars. A committee of students, faculty, and staff is exploring the feasibility of a biodiesel program.
The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing makes its meeting minutes and annual reports available to the public on its website. Proxy voting records and a list of endowment holdings are available to the campus community through a password-protected site.
The university aims to optimize investment return and has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.
Students, faculty, and alumni serve on Columbia’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which makes proxy voting recommendations to the board. The committee also hosts an annual town hall meeting at which the school community can voice its opinion on issues facing the committee or issues that the committee should address.
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