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Report Card 2011

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American University
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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American University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $380 million as of March 31, 2010

Location: Washington, District of Columbia


Campus Survey: Yes (see response)

Dining Survey: Yes (see response)

Endowment Survey: Yes (see response)

Student Survey: Yes (see response)


Please note: Data was collected in summer 2010 and may no longer be current.


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

Overall grade  
B +
American University has adopted green building, green cleaning, sustainable purchasing, and zero-waste policies. The Office of Sustainability implements and tracks all sustainability initiatives. The university purchases exclusively Energy Star-certified appliances and electronics, recycled toilet paper and paper towels, and EPEAT Gold-certified computers. A Clean Energy Revolving Fund was created to finance additional sustainability projects.
American aims to be carbon neutral by 2020. Several energy-conserving technologies have been instituted on campus, such as cogeneration, back pressure turbines, and energy management systems. The university generates energy using a rooftop solar array and has a solar hot water system. In 2009-2010, renewable energy credits from wind power were purchased for 100 percent of electricity.
The university spends more than 25 percent of its food budget on local products and also buys vegetables and herbs from an on-campus garden. Dining services serves exclusively cage-free eggs, hormone- and antibiotic-free milk, and sustainably harvested seafood. All dining locations are trayless and compost food scraps at all meals. American recently held a 12-week food waste reduction campaign to cut waste by 10 percent. The campus recycles 65 percent of waste.
All new construction and major renovations must meet or exceed LEED Silver standards, and 30 buildings on campus are LEED-registered in the USGBC’s LEED Volume Pilot program. American has installed low-flow faucets and weather-informed irrigation systems. Stormwater is managed through green roofs, porous pavement, and vegetated swales. The university is piloting the Sustainable Sites Initiative for landscape maintenance.
Students can choose to live in the Sustainable Earth hallway. The university just launched a Green Eagles eco-rep program and also employs two sustainability interns. The Eco-Sense student group leads an Eco-Certification program for university offices, instituted a farmers market on campus, and launched a campaign against bottled water.
American runs a ride-sharing site and offers discounted rates and preferential parking spots for carpoolers. The university provides public transportation discounts, is piloting the integration of public transit passes with school ID cards, and partners with a car-sharing program. In addition, there is a free, student-run, bike-lending program.
The university makes a list of all holdings available to trustees and senior administrators. A list of votes cast on proxy resolutions on a company-specific level, including the number of shares, is made available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select individuals.
American aims to optimize investment returns and the endowment is currently invested in renewable energy funds and community development loan funds. Donors may request that their gifts go to the Clean Energy Revolving Fund.
The university asks that its investment managers handle the details of proxy voting.
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