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Milestones

2019

College and University Sustainability Pledge re-signed with Mayor Bowser

Eight local university presidents, including AU President Sylvia Burwell, signed an updated College and University Sustainability Pledge (CUSP II) with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. The original pledge, signed in 2012, was updated in 2019 to continue universities' support and leadership in sustainability initiatives in order to make DC the "healthiest, greenest, most livable city" in the United States by 2032.

2018

Climate neutrality achieved

In 2018, AU became the first University in the United States to reach Carbon Neutrality. AU is proud to also be the first urban campus, the first research university, and at the time, was the the largest higher education institution to achieve carbon neutrality.

AU achieved carbon neutrality two years ahead of an ambitious target of 2020 by approaching the goal with innovative strategies to reduce our overall emissions, use renewable energy, and offset the small remainder.

AU's path to neutrality has been achieved through commitment, leadership, and a culture of sustainability. 

2017

"We Are Still In" the Paris Climate Accord

AU and a collective 1,218 other colleges and universities, governors, mayors, businesses, and investors from across the US have declared they will ensure the US remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.

Together, these organizations and individuals send a strong signal to the international community and the 194 other parties to the Paris Agreement that in lieu of US federal support, they will continue the US commitment to ambitiously address climate change."

2016

the 2016 District Sustainability Award

American University won the 2016 District Sustainability Award in the People's Choice category at a ceremony held at the Embassy of Finland. The award, presented by Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells, recognizes outstanding achievements and leadership in sustainability. The honorees support the goals of the DC sustainability plan, Sustainable DC, in areas such as energy and water conservation, renewable energy production, healthy food access, stormwater management, green jobs development, and sustainable waste management.

2014

50% of Campus Power from Solar Engergy

AU announced a 20-year solar energy purchase with partners George Washington University and George Washington University Hospital. The total project will supply the partners with 123 million kilowatt hours of emissions-free electricity per year, drawn from 243,000 solar panels at three sites in North Carolina. Comprised of 52 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power, it is the largest non-utility solar PV power purchase agreement in the United States and the largest PV project east of the Mississippi River.

2011

SIS becomes AU's 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, an achievement in the University's commitment to sustainability.

LEED certifications are awarded to green buildings for meeting standards in various area of sustainability, such as resource efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Solar Hot Water System installed

A solar hot water system with 134 racks of thermal energy panels were installed on the roofs of Mary Graydon Center and Letts, Anderson and Centennial Halls. The thermal energy panels plug directly into the domestic hot water systems, and help provide hot water used in MGC and the South Side residence halls for sinks and showers.

At the time of installation, this was the largest solar hot water system on the East Coast.

2009

Creation of the Office of Sustainability

The American University Office of Sustainability was founded in 2009 to help meet the university's goal of "acting on our values of social responsibility, service [and] an active pursuit of sustainability." The office develops and supports campus initiatives that promote sustainability within the campus community.

2008

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

On April 21, 2008, American University joined more than 500 universities around the United States in a significant effort by high education to address that environmental threat posed by climate change. The agreement called upon AU to move toward carbon neutrality through a range of deliberate measures.