President John J. DeGioia and other D.C. area university presidents signed on to Mayor Vincent Gray’s College and University Sustainability Pledge Wednesday.

The pledge, a voluntary public agreement between the D.C. government and its institutions of higher education to support a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable District, was publicly launched at a ceremony at American University.

Signatories agreed to adopt policies and develop projects that will enhance the District’s overall sustainability in exchange for support from the D.C. government.

Gray said he hopes the agreement will help make D.C. the greenest college town in the United States.

“We are the first in the nation to have this kind of university collaboration for sustainability,” he said. “If we don’t do this, we will have participated in destroying the planet.”

The signatories, which include American University, The George Washington University, Trinity Washington University, Gallaudet University, Catholic University, Howard University, the Corcoran College of Art and Design and the University of the District of Columbia, in addition to Georgetown, will create sustainability plans with specific targets and must report their results by August 2014.

Many of the participating universities have already made efforts towards greater sustainability. According to a statement from Karen Frank, assistant vice president for facilities and student housing, the university recycled over half the campus’s waste last year and has reduced its carbon footprint by 17 percent since 2005.

The statement added that several buildings on campus, including the Rafik B. Hariri Building, the Southwest Quadrangle and the soon-to-be-completed Regents Hall have received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for their environmentally friendly features.

DeGioia, who is president of the D.C. Consortium of Universities, also spoke at the event Wednesday.

“Through our work together, we’ll be able to strengthen our commitment to sustainability in the universities and the city,” he said. “We are honored to take a leadership role in advancing the mayor’s pledge.”

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