To demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, the George Washington University signed the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment in 2009 and the District of Columbia Mayor’s College and University Sustainability Pledge in 2012. The pledge unites eight D.C. area universities with the mayor’s office in efforts to advance environmental, social and economic progress through specific actions in areas such as energy-efficient buildings, water use, sustainability related research and education, community development, responsible purchasing and more. In 2017, GW reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and joined the We Are Still In coalition.
In June 2020, the GW Board of Trustees Task Force on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Responsibility published a report stating the university’s commitment to taking swift and decisive action to reverse the trends of climate change and of inequity in our institutions and society. Guided by GW’s internal Ecosystems Enhancement Strategy and external rankings, GW will make significant progress on sustainability in the coming years, on campus and in the classroom.
Current Progress Toward ESG Responsibility Task Force Commitments
- Since 2015, GW has made significant progress in divesting the endowment from funds that focus on the extraction of fossil fuels, reducing the investments by 89 percent.
- Strategic Investment Group, with oversight from the Committee on Finance and Investments, will divest from fossil fuel holdings and transition the portfolio over the next 5 years.
- GW is developing plans to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and is on track for carbon neutrality by 2030.
- In commemoration of GW’s bicentennial celebration in 2021, GW is preparing a team of faculty and staff experts and external partners to make a plan to remove all the greenhouse gas emissions the university has produced since its founding in 1821.
- Plastics pollute our oceans and our environment, impacting animals and human health. GW is committed to eliminating single-use plastics from campus, and has made the following changes:
- Installation of at least one bottle-filling station (aka “hydration station”) in each building and in convenient pedestrian outdoor locations. All will be easily identified with branding for the initiative.
- All vending machines have been converted from plastic bottled beverages to canned or glass beverages, which can be recycled indefinitely.
- A policy to inform members of our community about the university’s guidance regarding single-use plastics, including with respect to procurement, has been approved and will be effective July 1.
- Sustainable GW co-directors are working with Provost Blake to explore a Sustainability Institute at GW.
- The proposed institute would leverage GW’s unique contributions at the intersection of technology and policy to address sustainable development through trusted partnerships in the government, non-profit, and private sectors.