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Key Milestones of AU’s Sustainability Journey

2020

fuel pump

AU Divests From Fossil Fuels

AU eliminated all public fossil fuel investments from its endowment.

2019

DC Sustainability Pledge renewed

Eight local university presidents, including AU President Sylvia Burwell, renewed the College and University Sustainability Pledge with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

 
 

2018

milestone flag

Carbon neutrality achieved

AU became the first US university, the first urban campus, and the first research university in the US to reach carbon neutrality. This goal was achieved two years ahead schedule by using innovative strategies to reduce our overall emissions, use renewable energy, and offset the small remainder.

2017

helping hands

"We Are Still In"

AU joined more than 1,200 colleges, universities, elected officials, and businesses to declare our ongoing commitment to reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement through the “We Are Still In” declaration.

 
 

2016

Charter Signatory of Climate Commitment

AU became a charter signatory to the Climate Commitment through Second Nature, a nonprofit organization that helps colleges and universities expand their sustainability efforts.

2016

District Sustainability Award

American University won the 2016 District Sustainability Award in the People's Choice category. The award recognizes outstanding achievements and leadership in areas such as energy and water conservation, renewable energy production, stormwater management, and sustainable waste management.

2014

First Sustainability Plan

AU released its first comprehensive sustainability plan (note, the plan is currently being updated with a projected 2020 release).

 
 

2014

power outlet

50% of Campus Power from Solar Energy

AU announced a 20-year solar energy purchase with partners George Washington University and George Washington University Hospital. Solar panels at three sites in North Carolina supply the partners with emissions-free electricity. At the time, it was the largest non-utility solar PV power purchase agreement in the US and the largest PV project east of the Mississippi River.

2014

Creation of Fossil Free Fund

The AU Board of Trustees, based on a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, created a Fossil Free Investment Fund within the university’s endowment.

 
 

2011

First LEED-Certified Building

The School of International Service was the first building on campus to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, awarded to green buildings for meeting sustainability standards.

2011

Solar Hot Water System Installed

A solar hot water system with 134 racks of thermal energy panels was installed on the roofs of the Mary Graydon Center and Letts, Anderson and Centennial Halls. At the time, this was the largest solar hot water system on the East Coast.

2010

Carbon Neutrality Goal Established

AU released a comprehensive plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.

 
 

2010

Zero Waste Policy

AU adopted a Zero Waste Policy for diverting campus waste from landfill.

2009

door opening

Office of Sustainability Created

AU’s Office of Sustainability was founded to help meet the university's goal of "acting on our values of social responsibility, service, and an active pursuit of sustainability."

2008

signature

first Climate Commitment

American University joined more than 500 other US universities in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to address the threat of climate change.