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Report Card 2008

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Cornell University
College Sustainability Report Card 2008

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Cornell University

School details:

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Endowment: $5,100 million as of June 30, 2007

Location: Ithaca, New York


Campus Survey: No

Dining Survey: No

Endowment Survey: Yes


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

Overall grade  
A comprehensive website has been established, a sustainability coordinator has been hired, and the university is developing a campus master plan with sustainability as a core philosophy. President Skorton has signed the Presidents Climate Commitment and the university has published its first Green Report on campus sustainability issues and environmental impacts, which represents the work of students, faculty, and staff across campus.
Ten percent of the entire campus electrical use has been eliminated through the use of lake source cooling to air condition campus buildings. Currently, 16 percent of electricity used by Cornell is sustainably produced, and the university is planning a combined heat and power project that will improve energy efficiency by nearly 50 percent.
Over 57 percent of the waste generated at Cornell’s Ithaca campus is diverted from the landfill and over 350 tons of pre- and postconsumer food waste from dining halls is composted annually. The university’s dining services director, head chef, and others have worked with the Farms-to-College Task Force, a student group, to promote sustainable food practices in the dining halls.
As part of the university’s Green Building Initiative, Cornell considers many environmental factors in its building projects, and its Sustainable Design Guidelines use the LEED rating system as a model. On campus, at least two buildings have been LEED-certified, and green building features, such as recyclable carpet and sustainably sourced wood, have been incorporated into other areas.
Cornell has taken many steps to reduce negative environmental impacts related to car use on campus, including the use of incentives such as free bus passes and restricted on-campus parking. The university fleet runs on biodiesel. Cornell is engaged in dialogue with local officials about the future of transportation.
Information on endowment holdings and proxy voting records is made available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community at the investment office.
The university aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds. Cornell is in the process of considering investment managers that take sustainability and environmental factors into account.
Investment managers vote proxies according to university guidelines, which require that the social and environmental aspects of investments be evaluated. When the need arises, the president may establish an ad hoc group comprised of senior administrators, faculty, students, and staff and/or alumni. Concerns of the committee would be passed on to the board of trustees.
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