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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

College and University Sustainability Pledge

American University
February 29, 2012

Thank you, President Kerwin.  We are deeply grateful to you for hosting us here at American University’s School of International Service, in this beautiful, LEED-gold certified building.  As all we come together this morning to sign the College and University Sustainability Pledge, I do not think there could be a better there could be a better place than here.

I also wish to express our gratitude to you, Mayor Gray, for being with us to officially launch this partnership between our universities and our city.  Through our work together, we will be able to strengthen our collective commitment to creating and implementing environmentally sustainable practices across our campuses and across our city.

The College and University Sustainability Pledge is one, significant piece of a broader collaboration between our higher education community and the District, animated by our shared goal of advancing the city’s growth and success.  Together, we are engaged in a wide range of projects, targeting economic development, technological innovation, and smart growth, as we consider the ways that our colleges and universities can continue to partner with the city.

The Sustainability Pledge reflects this focus on partnership, and expresses our deep commitment – as individual institutions of higher learning and as a collective body – to act as leaders and provide a model for other organizations throughout the District.

As we sign the Sustainability Pledge, we are proud to be supporting the Mayor’s ambitious goal of making Washington, D.C. the most sustainable city in America.  Strong progress already has been made, with recognition of our City as the leading EPA Green Power Community in 2011 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the leading city per capita in LEED certified commercial and institutional green buildings in 2011 by the Green Building Council.

We seek to help the District to build on this record and to maintain its top green rankings, while at the same time advancing our individual commitments to strengthening environmentally sustainable practices on our campuses.

The Sustainability Pledge is designed to have impact: it is aspirational in vision yet intended to produce serious benefits for our local environment and our communities.

To do so, each of our colleges and universities will, over the next year, set our own commitments and goals for sustainability, with areas of focus including Energy & Buildings, Research & Innovation, Transportation, Purchasing, and Green Education & Training.

On our Georgetown campus, we will seek to build on the work we have pursued to advance clean energy, green buildings, and greenhouse gas reduction.  To give just a few examples, we currently have completed or begun construction on four LEED buildings, ensured that less than 10% of total waste is sent to a landfill each year, launched a new grant initiative to strengthen academic research focused on environmental issues, and committed to reducing our carbon footprint by half by 2020.  The Sustainability Pledge will allow us to further strengthen these efforts, especially as we pursue new initiatives and ideas with the collaborative spirit that it enables.

Through the Pledge, recognition will be given for the accomplishments at each of our city’s colleges and universities, and a framework is being developed to measure and communicate the cumulative impact of the higher education community’s sustainability leadership in the District of Columbia.

Beyond a document that summarizes the intended actions of our colleges and universities, the Sustainability Pledge also reflects a deeply held commitment between the higher education and the District.  By signing the Pledge, we accept a mutual responsibility to uphold the highest standards of achievement for environmental sustainability.  We are dedicated to working together to advance the possibilities for economic and social equity that can result from the new policies, practices, and projects that emerge from our work to reach our environmental goals.

Through Mayor Gray’s leadership, the District of Columbia has the capacity today to be the foremost national leader on issues of sustainability.  In turn, our city can become a model for others, demonstrating how a focus on sustainability can support and improve the overall well being of urban communities around our country.

As the District’s colleges and universities, we are honored to take a leadership role in advancing the Mayor’s vision through this Sustainability Pledge.  We are deeply grateful for the opportunities we will pursue together in the weeks, months, and years ahead, all in support of a stronger future for Washington, D.C. and its residents for generations to come.

It is now my pleasure to introduce Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who will offer his remarks.  Mayor Gray…

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