University President John J. DeGioia reaffirmed Georgetown’s commitment to sustainable development and operations last week by signing the Sustainable Campus Charter at the 2010 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

By signing the charter, Georgetown joins a group of 25 universities worldwide, including Brown University and University of Copenhagen, in pledging to support sustainable development practices. The 25 universities, known collectively as the Global University Leadership Forum (GULF), were selected to reflect “ranking, strategic importance of the university [.] and contribution of the leader of the university to the community,” according to the GULF Web site.

“At Georgetown, we’ve made a commitment to minimize our environmental impact, promote energy efficiency and build sustainable practices,” DeGioia said in a university press release. “We are proud to sign on to this charter, and we will continue our efforts to align our operations, research and teaching with the goal of sustainability.”

Participating institutions are encouraged to support environmental and social sustainability on their campuses and serve as pace-setters in their communities. The Sustainable Campus Charter mandates adherence to three campus-wide principles formulated by the International Sustainable Campus Network. The first mandate requires demonstration of sustainable construction, renovation and campus operation. The second calls for sustainable campus planning, development and community integration. Finally, the charter mandates linking facilities, research and education for sustainable development.

“In signing on to this charter, we are affirming the university’s commitment to sustainability.  Georgetown is addressing issues of sustainability in a comprehensive way,” said Andy Pino, the university’s director of media relations.

The sustainable campus practices that have been implemented over the past several years include converting the Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle fleet to biofuel and making improvements to the university recycling program. The university has reduced its carbon footprint by 16 percent over the past three years.

In the near future, sustainability issues are being taken into account in terms of the 2010 Campus Plan, a guide for campus planning and development over the next 10 years. Currently being drafted, the Campus Plan is expected to include methods for introducing sustainable practices related to “recycling, construction and renovation, energy use, transportation, and academic courses,” according to a November 2009 presentation of the draft Campus Plan.

Georgetown’s green efforts have been successful, according to independent sustainability auditing organizations. Georgetown’s grade from the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which compiles an annual “green” ranking of colleges and universities nationwide, was raised from a B- to a B between 2008 and 2009, tying with American University and The George Washington University for the highest grade among District universities.

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