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Report Card 2010

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Swarthmore College
College Sustainability Report Card 2010

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Courtesy of Swarthmore College

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $1,418 million as of June 30, 2008

Location: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Enrollment: 1,490

Type: Private


Campus Survey: Yes (see response)

Dining Survey: Yes (see response)

Endowment Survey: Yes (see response)

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


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

Overall grade  
B +
Through the creation of a master plan, specific steps were taken to integrate sustainability into various facets of campus operations, including organic pesticide use, energy efficiency improvements, and waste stream reduction. The Sustainability Committee focuses on the purchase of renewable energy credits, energy conservation, and energy efficiency.
In 2008, Swarthmore achieved a 32 percent reduction in emissions from its heating plant, and has committed to an additional 15 percent reduction by 2010. The college offsets 41 percent of its electricity with renewable energy credits. Lighting on campus has been upgraded, and HVAC systems have been retrofitted for energy efficiency. Student Green Advisors collaborate with resident assistants to encourage students to conserve energy.
The college purchases local produce, dairy, and meat products, and herbs are sourced from an on-campus garden. All eggs are cage-free, coffee served on campus is fair trade, most milk is hormone- and antibiotic-free, and some beef is grass-fed. Swarthmore composts preconsumer food waste and donates excess food to a local food bank.
Swarthmore aims to build all new construction projects to LEED standards. A rainwater collection system has been installed on one building. All dormitory bathrooms have low-flow showerheads, and some laundry units on campus are high-efficiency models. There are green roofs on some campus buildings.
Green Advisors advocate for environmental stewardship in residence halls, and Earthlust offers a green tour during orientation, promotes environmental awareness, and advocates for campus sustainability. Other student groups include the Good Food Project, which maintains an on-campus garden, and the Crum Creek Monitoring Project, which tracks the health of Swarthmore’s watershed.
The college offers shuttle service on campus and provides buses to local off-campus destinations and downtown Philadelphia. Long-standing policies prohibit vehicle access to the center of campus. A car-sharing program is also available on campus.
The college makes a list of all holdings available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community. A list of votes cast on proxy resolutions on a company-specific level is sent to all members of the school community upon request.
The college aims to optimize investment return and is currently invested in renewable energy funds. The college has investment policy provisions, or uses investment managers, that consider environmental/sustainability factors. Swarthmore offers donors the option of directing gifts to an investment fund that considers environmental/sustainability factors.
An advisory committee with four students, two trustees, one administrator, and one staff person makes proxy voting recommendations to the board of trustees.
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