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Green Study Abroad Initiatives

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American University: Carbon Neutral by 2020

AU is committed to:

  • Reduce Consumption
  • Produce renewable energy
  • Buy/develop offsets for travel and other unavoidable emissions
  • Buy green power for 100 percent of electricity consumption and renewable energy credits (RECs) for 100 percent of electricity
  • Purchase wind-generated RECs that offset 100 percent of its annual electricity usage
  • Being a signatory of both ACUPCC and the Talloires Declaration
  • Maintain status as a STARS Charter Participant
  • Green Teaching Certification programs to reward professors for incorporating sustainability into the classroom

SIS Contributions

  • Renowned 'green' architect William McDonough designed the new building to reinforce the values inherent in the school's mission. Its design, construction, and operation reflect the School of International Service's commitment to advancing ecological stewardship, preserving transparency and human dignity, and working for social justice
  • 3,230 square-feet of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof to reduce reliance on nonrenewable sources
  • Nontoxic materials and state-of-the-art green installations increase natural air flow and effective ventilation
  • Rain water is collected and used for landscape irrigation
  • Low-flow faucets and fixtures reduce water consumption
  • First building with three solar water heating systems in Washington, D.C.

Paperless Applications

AU and the School of International Service have begun accepting paperless applications and online payment forms in an effort to reduce our paper intake and make the application process more efficient. For more information, contact

City Guides

While we try to prepare students as much as possible prior to departure, city guides specifically tailored to each program site will help provide more in-depth information regarding local produce, markets, green hotels, restaurants and educational volunteer opportunities. To learn more about your area, click here

Travel Light Tips

  • When reserving airfare, purchase 'Carbon Offsets' at check out directly. This is a fast and easy way to counteract your flight emissions
  • Use eco-friendly airlines or ground transportation whenever possible. It will save pounds of CO2 with each journey
  • Walk, bike or ride public transportation like the bus or train instead of personal vehicles or cabs. It will save money and reduce your footprint
  • Conserve water: reuse water bottles and shorten your shower time
  • Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Unplugging appliances completely is an even more effective way to reduce your usage
  • Shop smart. Frequent local farmers markets, restaurants and vendors. It will not only save time and money, but gives back to the local neighborhood and reinforces the culture. Green or eco-labeled products can be found worldwide. And don't forget reusable grocery bags!
  • Green your schoolwork by carrying a flashdrive with your syllabus or required readings instead of printing them out. It will make things easier, lighter, and GREENER!

Go Straight to the Source...

Students can purchase carbon credits directly in order to offset the greenhouse gases emitted by their airline travel. For more information on carbon credits, check out or


Students are encouraged to focus ONE (or more, if inspired) blog on green initiatives or programs they see in their host country. Some questions to consider include:

  • What could I do in my daily routine to decrease my footprint?
  • What environmental issue is most prevalent at my study abroad site? (Transportation emissions, water conservation, food scarcity, etc.)
  • How is my host city reacting to this issue? What initiatives or programs are in place?
  • What initiatives or programs could I bring back to AU/DC?

Climate Culture Games and Avatars

Creating your own personalized avatar and participating in carbon offsetting games online help students understand their carbon impact in clear and concise ways. With social networking capabilities and the functional island clean-up simulator, Climate Culture has produced an effective tool that will make saving energy educational and fun! Visit to get started.

For more information Contact: