Our Commitments

Over the last decade and a half, GW has prioritized sustainability through goal setting and action. To demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, GW in 2008 signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (now known as the Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments), requiring the university to set a target date for climate neutrality. The same year, GW created an Office of Sustainability, dedicating staff to coordinate sustainability performance improvement. In 2012, GW joined with the other DC-based higher education institutions to collectively sign the District of Columbia Mayor’s College and University Sustainability Pledge, a local collaborative to advance sustainability goals and shared accountability. In 2017, GW reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and joined the We Are Still In coalition to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030.

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. The ESG Responsibility Task Force commitments are some of the most ambitious in higher education, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 (with an interim target of 40% reduction by 2025) and the elimination of single-use plastics. These commitments also include divesting the endowment of all fossil fuel companies and achieving a Platinum Rating within the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) by 2025. The Office of Sustainability and its network of dozens of university partners are focused on implementing these commitments and regularly reporting on progress in the coming years.

Current Progress Toward ESG Responsibility Task Force Commitments


  • Fossil fuel investments make up less than 2% of the endowment, and GW to is on track to fully divest by 2025. GW has no history of making direct public investments in fossil fuel companies, and since 2013 has not made commitments to invest in private funds that focus on businesses that derive the majority of their revenues from the extraction of fossil fuels.


  • As of FY2023, GW had reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% from a 2008 baseline through energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sourcing. The university is on track to meet is interim 40% reduction target by 2025 and is developing a building decarbonization plan. GW's annual GHG emissions inventory is publicly disclosed here.
  • GW earned STARS Gold with 79.77 points in 2023, more than 11 points higher than in 2020 (68.20). This was the twelfth highest score achieved by a U.S. college or university in STARS version 2.2. The university is working to implement changes to increase performance within the engagement and operations categories.
  • In 2021, GW adopted a policy prohibiting the purchase of single-use plastics with university funds. Implementation is supported by a broad array of partners including safety and facilities, procurement, events and venues, and dining. More than 100 water bottle filling stations have been installed across GW's campuses including each residence hall and each major academic building. Vending machines and markets operated by GW Dining have eliminated plastic-bottled beverages except in instances where there is no alternative.


  • Housed within the recently launched GW Alliance for a Sustainable Future, the GW Sustainability Institute collaborate across schools, departments, and institutes to generate knowledge that empowers the formulation of policies and practices, ensuring thriving societies today while safeguarding similar opportunities and resources for future generations.

Additional Highlights

  • Roughly 60% of GW’s electricity needs are addressed by renewable energy, largely through a power purchase agreement (PPA) executed jointly with The George Washington University Hospital and American University that financed the development of three large solar farms in North Carolina. The university is currently working to develop another long-term energy purchase with the hopes of addressing GW’s remaining need so that 100% of electricity demand is served by renewable generation.
  • GW has adopted a zero waste approach, implementing a series of strategies to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills while increasing recycling, reuse, donation, and composting. As of spring 2022, the university has begun rapidly deploying and scaling up composting programs. Through dining venue- and event-based composting along with centralized drop off on campus, GW diverted more than 200,000 pounds of organic waste from landfill in Academic Year 2022-23 alone.
  • GW’s campuses are home to 17 LEED projects, having earned certification requiring minimum standards in energy and water efficiency, carbon emissions mitigation, indoor environmental quality, and responsible materials sourcing. Thurston Hall, a first-year residence hall, recently achieved LEED Platinum following a major renovation.
  • Located in the heart of the District of Columbia, GW has leveraged its location to serve as a model for urban sustainability through efficient and low-carbon transportation. The university has more than 700 bicycle parking spaces on campus, offers a deeply discounted rate for Capital Bikeshare membership ($25 annually) for students, faculty and staff, and provides students with a UPass which offers unlimited Metro rides for $100 per semester.