American University has adopted a number of initiatives designed to make the school greener. This includes a climate commitment, a sustainability plan, and sustainability policies. The University will be carbon neutral by 2020. They are home to the largest combined solar array in the District. They are dedicated to growing green power through their purchase of renewable energy certificates and they are a part of the largest non-utility solar energy purchase in the US.
The University has 10 green roofs and is also one of three universities in the world using the US Green Building Council‘s LEED Volume certification program. All new buildings are LEED Gold certified, and are many existing buildings have also achieved LEED certification. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized American University for its efforts to advance the development of the country’s voluntary green power market through purchase of renewable energy certificates.
The college formally enjoined the struggle against climate change on April 21, 2008. This is the date that President Neil Kerwin signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) pledging that AU would work to achieve carbon neutrality. Through a combination of emissions reductions, on-site renewable energy, the purchase of renewable energy and offsetting emissions, American University plans to be carbon neutral by the year 2020.
In 2009, American University issued a strategic plan titled Leadership for a Changing World, articulating ten transformational goals for the next decade. Goal number seven declares the university’s commitment to “Act on our values of social responsibility, service [and] an active pursuit of sustainability.” In order to help achieve this and other strategic goals, this plan integrates and coordinates sustainability throughout the university.
The Office of Sustainability was created in 2009 to assist in reaching this goal. In 2010, AU adopted sustainability policies, produced a climate action plan, and assessed the university’s sustainability using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). In January 2011, the university published its first comprehensive sustainability report, earning a STARS Gold rating.
In 2011, the university charged the Sustainability Project Team, comprising students, faculty, staff, and alumni, with weaving these programs into a single, comprehensive sustainability plan. Starting from the university’s STARS Gold rating as a baseline, this plan outlines actions toward the goal of achieving a STARS Platinum rating by 2017.
The University’s sustainability policy incorporates building, cleaning, and sustainable purchasing. All construction, including new construction, major renovation, and major replacement/repair projects will be implemented to be equal to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Gold, or better. Existing campus facilities will be operated and maintained to be equal to LEED Certified.
The University has engaged cleaning services, products and practices that have less environmental impact than conventional products and practices. This is to be consistent with the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance 2009 standards.
The University’s sustainable purchasing policy personal applies to ongoing consumables, durable goods, reduced mercury lamps, facility alterations and additions, apparel, food, apparel and eliminating bottled water. This involves 40 – 60 sustainable purchasing, recycled products and fair trade sourcing of products. All of which will be fully implemented by 2016.
The University will strive to send zero waste to landfills and incinerators by the year 2020. The college already reuses, recycles, or composts 50 percent of ongoing consumables, 75 percent of durable goods, and 50 percent of construction and demolition debris. It diverts 80 percent of discarded batteries and recycles all mercury-containing lamps.
By December 31, 2015, the school will reduce solid waste by 10 percent, and divert 90 percent of solid waste from being sent to landfills and incineration. By December 31, 2020, it will reduce waste by an additional 10 percent and send zero waste to landfill and incineration.
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