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Report Card 2011

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Western Michigan University
College Sustainability Report Card 2011

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Western Michigan University

School details:

  Grade higher than last year


Endowment: $172 million as of March 31, 2010

Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan


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 +
Western Michigan University has incorporated sustainability into the campus master and strategic plans, and the President's University-wide Sustainability Committee oversees environmental efforts on campus. The university's green purchasing policy covers electronics, cleaning, and paper products.
The university has completed two greenhouse gas emissions inventories and is developing a climate action plan. Energy-saving improvements include computerized HVAC systems, load shedding, occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting, and high-efficiency lighting. Old appliances may be traded in for more efficient models. WMU has wind and solar demonstration projects.
Dining services spends 7 percent of its food budget on local or organic items. Only hormone- and antibiotic-free milk is served, and almost all coffee is fair trade and organic. Most dining facilities are trayless. WMU recycles electronics in addition to traditional materials and is piloting a vermicomposting program.
WMU mandates that all construction and renovations costing more than $1 million use LEED criteria as design guidelines. The campus has one LEED Gold-certified building and five that meet LEED standards. Per capita water consumption has decreased 2 percent since 2005. Campus water-saving improvements include low-flow faucets, showerheads, and efficient laundry machines.
Students for a Sustainable Earth and other groups promote campus sustainability and helped initiate a student green fee. The Gibbs House provides a living-learning experience focused on environmental stewardship. WMU has 2 student gardens, sponsors 18 eco-reps, and employs 30 sustainability interns. New student orientation features sustainability presentations, and the campus has conducted successful waste and energy reduction competitions.
WMU students have unlimited access to a public bus service with routes throughout the city. One-third of students commute via environmentally preferable means. Students run an on-campus biodiesel collective, which distributes fuel to university and community members, and are also involved in constructing a bike path to connect campus with downtown Kalamazoo.
The university makes a list of all holdings available to the public online. A list of votes cast on proxy resolutions on a company-specific level, including the number of shares, is available to trustees and senior administrators.
The university aims to optimize investment returns, and the endowment is currently invested in renewable energy funds. The university also uses investment managers who consider environmental and sustainability factors, and donors can request that gifts be directed into sustainable and socially responsible investment options.
As the endowment is heavily invested in mutual funds, the university allows its investment managers to handle the details of proxy voting. In select cases, a committee with two administrators, three alumni, and two trustees deliberates and makes decisions on proxy votes.
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