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Report Card 2011

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Vanderbilt University
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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Vanderbilt University

School details:

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Endowment: $2,834 million as of June 30, 2009

Location: Nashville, Tennessee


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  
The Environmental Advisory Committee has implemented an institution-wide sustainability policy and coordinates with a consortium of Tennessee colleges on creating environmental management programs. The Sustainability and Environmental Management Office employs five full-time staff members. The director of sustainability informs institutional purchasing decisions based on environmentally responsible practices.
The university uses a cogeneration facility for almost all of its heating and cooling needs and utilizes biomass fuel for the remainder. Building energy consumption has fallen since 2005, and the ThinkOne energy conservation education program strives to further reduce energy consumption by 10 percent through public awareness campaigns.
The university spends 6 percent of its food budget on local products. In addition, most beef purchased for the campus is hormone and antibiotic free. Only fair trade coffee is served on campus, and preconsumer food waste is composted at 25 percent of meals. The university has a zero-landfill waste policy for the recycling of electronic waste.
Vanderbilt has two LEED Certified, five LEED Silver, and four LEED Gold buildings on campus and plans to build all future academic buildings to LEED standards. The university has reduced its per capita water use by 50 percent since 2005. Exclusively green cleaning products are used on campus.
The Commons, which houses more than 1,600 first-year students, is used as a living-learning laboratory for environmental education. All first-year students must participate in a semester-long environmental seminar series, and the Eco-Dores program provides peer-to-peer environmental education in the residence halls. Numerous student organizations promote sustainability, including advocating for an alumni green fund.
University employees receive free public transportation passes, and the university sponsors a car-sharing program. The entire campus community has access to a free on-campus shuttle service and an online ride-matching system. Additionally, 80 percent of students commute to campus via environmentally preferable transportation.
The university makes a list of all holdings, as well as a list of votes cast on proxy resolutions by its fund managers on a company-specific level, available to trustees, senior administrators, and other select members of the school community.
The university aims to optimize investment returns, and the endowment is currently invested in renewable energy funds and community development loan funds. The university also uses investment managers who consider environmental and sustainability factors.
The university is unable to vote proxies for the portion of the endowment that is invested in commingled funds. For separately managed accounts, the university provides investment managers with general guidelines that determine its proxy votes.
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