American University took a major step towards achieving its goal of climate neutrality by 2020 by offsetting emissions from study abroad-related air travel.
Recognizing that certain emissions sources, such as air travel emissions, cannot be eliminated given our current technological limitations, and because they are necessary for the university to fulfill its mission, the Office of Sustainability announced that AU will begin to invest in a portfolio of offsets that will be aligned to certain sources of emissions.
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.
Since the start of the new year, American University's Facilities Management and Office of Sustainability have found a new way to promote the university's Zero Waste goal while also supporting veterans. AU is contracted with Veteran's Compost, a local business that employs veterans and their family members, for the removal of organic food waste from the Terrace Dining Room and the Davenport Coffee Lounge.
As their name suggests, Veteran's Compost will collect food scraps from designated bins at both locations and turn them into high-quality compost at their licensed and permitted sites. The company's services also will be available for the university's Zero Waste events, upon request. Their composting process is fueled entirely by wind power, and the compost is 100 percent organic and approved for organic farming. Veteran's Compost takes particular pride in its reliability and trustworthiness by reasoning, "If we can show up on time and on target on the battlefield, you can trust us with your food scraps."
Residents of American University's Cassell Hall are now proud to say they live and learn in AU's first LEED-certified residence hall.
Cassell Hall, opened in 2013, earned the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification this spring, an achievement in the University's commitment to sustainability.
LEED certifications are awarded to buildings for meeting standards in various sustainability issues, such as resource efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. The program is now a benchmark in green building worldwide.
American University's Gray Hall earned the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Existing Buildings (EB) Silver certification recently. The EB distinction, as opposed to New Construction (NC), refers to how the building is maintained, rather than how it is designed and constructed.
Gray Hall is the third building at AU to earn LEED certification, following McKinley and School of International Service which both earned LEED NC Gold status.
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.
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.
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.
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.