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Report Card 2009

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Williams College
College Sustainability Report Card 2009

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Williams College

School details:

  Endowment Sustainability Leader


Endowment: $1,800 million as of June 30, 2008

Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 2,050

Type: Private


Campus Survey: Yes

Dining Survey: Yes

Endowment Survey: Yes


Data compiled from independent research and survey responses from schools. For information on data collection and evaluation, please see the Methodology  section.

Overall grade  
B +
In 2007, the trustees passed a resolution committing Williams to making sustainability an institutional priority and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. In addition to the Campus Environmental Advisory Committee, the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives works with the campus community to incorporate sustainability into campus life.
The college's emissions in fiscal year 2007 and 2008 were 23 percent below 2006, resulting from measures such as switching to a hydro-generated electricity provider and conducting energy efficiency improvements in the central heating plant. The college has installed a 26.8-kilowatt photovoltaic system.
The college spends approximately 12 percent of its annual food budget on products from local farms, including grass-fed beef and organic produce. Fair trade coffee and bananas are also served. Williams uses reusable dishware for large outdoor picnics, offers only biodegradable to-go containers, composts food waste, and runs a comprehensive recycling program.
The college is seeking LEED certification for all four buildings currently in design or under construction. Williams is incorporating green building practices into renovations and retrofits of existing buildings and has developed an internal environmental assessment protocol for building renewal projects.
The college includes sustainability in new student orientation. The Zilkha Center hires student Eco-Reps during the school year and student interns during the summer to work on sustainability projects. The center and the facilities department support student-led dorm energy competitions.
Williams has four electric vehicles and several hybrid cars in its fleet and partners with a commercial car-sharing program. Campus parking areas are gradually being relocated to the perimeter of campus to discourage on-campus driving.
The college makes its shareholder voting record accessible to the public on the school's website. A list of investment holdings is available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community at the investment office or the vice president’s office.
The college aims to optimize investment return and is invested in renewable energy and community development financial institutions. The Williams Social Choice Fund is an option to direct donations to a special endowment fund that is invested in a socially responsible mutual fund and a community loan fund.
The Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility at Williams deliberates on and makes recommendations or decisions on proxy votes. The committee is comprised of two students, two faculty members, two alumni representatives, and two staff members.
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