Sustainability at ACG

Human activity undeniably impacts nature and climate with devastating consequences on the planet and all its inhabitants. As a leading educational institution, Τhe American College of Greece (ACG) recognizes the environmental, economic, and social benefits of resource efficiency and commits to educate, inspire and empower its students, as well as faculty, staff, parents, alumni, trustees, and business partners, to develop a sustainability culture on campus, collaborating with the local community in promoting sustainability best practices.

Following US best practices and as also reflected in its President’s 2025 vision, The American College of Greece is gradually developing an ever-growing number of sustainability best practices. ACG is committed to systematically addressing issues from sustainability focus in academic programs and research and reducing its carbon footprint while improving its energy efficiency, to enhancing its social impact and increasing transparency and accountability in its daily operations.

For all its relevant activity, ACG has been awarded the STARS Gold Rating, in recognition of its best practices in five categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning & Administration and Innovation & Leadership. ACG is the only academic institution in Greece to have received a distinction by the US AASHE – an internationally acclaimed association. Through its membership in the UN Global Compact, the UN Academic Impact and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), ACG has committed to always operate in support of the UN SDGs – and most importantly, Goal No 4: Quality Education.

At ACG we place a strong emphasis on providing our students – the leaders of tomorrow – with the knowledge, values, and experiences needed to navigate this everchanging environment while acting as engaged and responsible citizens and professionals, in order to help create a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable world.

The Office of Public Affairs

The Office of Public Affairs leads all sustainability-related activity in terms of operations and engagement, to advance sustainability on campus by:

  • Strengthening the collaboration with and preparing the reports for various local and international organizations supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Working with other ACG departments on implementing STARS recommendations;
  • Promoting new ACG policies;
  • Organizing awareness campaign and social impact activities engaging students, faculty and staff;
  • Organizing events on a variety of sustainability-related topics.

The Office of Public Affairs is working closely with the ACG 150 Center of Excellence in Sustainability (CoES), a pioneer Center focused on advancing sustainability in academics and conducting sustainability-related research.  

ACG Sustainability

ACG Sustainability Highlights

  • ACG showcased its academic commitment to sustainability through the new undergraduate Biomedical Sciences Program, which increased our sustainability-focused courses, the Environmental Management minor, the ALBA MSc in Supply Chain Management, a program largely focused on sustainability, the newly launched Sustainable Finance minor, and through its institutional learning outcomes.
  • In 2021, the Center of Excellence in Sustainability (CoES) was incorporated in the ACG 150 initiative. In tandem, the CoES Academic Advisory Board was created.
  • In 2017, we launched the “ACG Waste Reduction Campaign: Reduce, Reuse Recycle!” in order to educate our community on waste reduction practices as well as recycling best practices. In the context of this campaign, all waste and recycling bins were updated in 2017. Additionally, in 2020, we launched the exclusive ACG Community Exchange Platform [email protected], in order to encourage our members to get into the habit of reusing pre-loved items instead of throwing them away and/or buying everything new.
  • In 2018, we launched the “#ACGGoesPlasticFree Campaign”, which led to ACG being featured in the dedicated website of the Ministry of Environment & Energy about the nationwide efforts for the reduction of single-use plastics for its set of exemplary practices (2020). In the context of the campaign, a campus-wide policy banning plastic cups at offices was put in effect.
  • In 2019, we launched the “ACG Goes Smoke-free Campaign”, which aimed at reminding our community about the national anti-smoking law in effect for educational institutions as well raising awareness about the harmful consequences of smoking.
  • In 2021, we launched the “ACG Food Waste Campaign: Reduce your FOODprint!” in order to educate our community about the harmful effects of food waste and how to minimize it.
  • We have established the “ACG Sustainability Leaders”, a dedicated volunteer student organization that engages with sustainability-related initiatives.
  • We have established the ACG SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Student Hub, the Deree student Hub operating under the SDG Student Program of the Greek charter of the UN SDSN. The Hub is working closely with UN SDSN Greece and UN SDSN Youth Greece and collaborating with Hubs of other education institutions in Greece.  
  • We introduced the “Sustainable Events Guidelines”.
  • We installed the air quality sensor/platform, Airly, which monitors and provides real-time data about the air quality on campus. ACG is the first and only institution in Greece with such a device.
  • We installed an innovative Workshop Task Management Program, AIMMS, to reduce paper consumption on campus.
  • We constructed new buildings, such as the Pierce IB wing, which classify as Energy A efficiency buildings.
  • We updated current policies, such as the purchasing policy and the suppliers code of conduct, with the support of our vendors in order to enhance our overall sustainability efforts.
  • We amended the existing New Employee Orientation Guidelines to include a section on Sustainability @ ACG.
  • A clear strategic commitment to sustainability is highlighted in the President’s Strategic Plan.
  • We organized a series of Cultural Diversity Workshops for faculty and employees, aiming at: (a) Building a sense of community and trust, (b) Offering practical skills to challenge racism, sexism, and heterosexism and effectively engage in challenging conversations that arise, and (c) Establishing group agreements for safe & honest dialogue.
  • We organized the following conferences and events, as a result of our collaborations and synergies with UN Sustainable SDSN (a and b), UNAI (c), CSR Hellas (d), and Boroume and Dipnosofistirion Catering (e): (a) The first “Symposium on Climate Change: Threats, Challenges, Solutions for Greece” at ACG, (b) an event on “The Role of the Greek Higher Education Institutions in Promoting the SDGs” with Jeffrey Sachs as the keynote speaker, in collaboration with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) and the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), (c) the 3-day “UN SDGs Symposium: Exploring the DiverCity of Athens”, organized in the context of ACG’s representation in the UN Millennium Fellowship Program 2020 by eleven Deree students, (d) the first “Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Summer School” at ACG, a five-day workshop, in 2019, which has since become an annual occurrence in digital format due to Covid-19 restrictions, and (e) the event “Love Food, Hate Waste: The importance of reducing food waste”, serving as the kick-off of the food waste campaign.
  • ACG through the Institute of Public Health (IPH) advocated public policy on smoking at a national and European level with Prof. Behrakis, IPH Director, being appointed as the Head of the Experts Committee for Tobacco Control in Greece by the Ministry of Health.
  • We showcased our commitment to innovative education through the Pierce Engineering Academy, which created two solar racing cars!

STARS® Rating

In February 2020, ACG achieved the STARS® Gold Rating for its third sustainability report and assessment, in recognition of our sustainability achievements in five categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning & Administration and Innovation & Leadership.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS®) is developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.

Following US best practices and as also reflected in President Horner’s 2025 vision, we have come a long way as an academic institution since the first STARS report was submitted in 2015. As we stand, ACG is the only academic institution in Greece that submits such a report and one of the two institutions outside the US & Canada to have achieved such a rating.

SIERRA Magazine “Cool Schools” List 

Following the STARS Gold Rating achievement in 2020, ACG earned a spot on the SIERRA Magazine “Cool Schools” list for 2021 for the third time, in recognition of its sustainability efforts and best practices.

ACG made its inaugural appearance on the “greenest” colleges list in 2018 and was also featured in the 2019 “Cool Schools” list. 

AASHE Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) 

ACG has been recognized as a top performer in the 2021 Sustainable Campus Index, in the sustainability impacts areas of Grounds, and Purchasing. A publication from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

ACG has been a top performer in AASHE’s Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) consecutively since 2016.

The Princeton Review 

The American College of Greece (ACG) is one of the 420 most environmentally responsible colleges according to the Princeton Review for 2022.

The Princeton Review chose the schools for its eleventh edition based on a survey of administrators at 835 colleges in 2020-21 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. ACG has been included in The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges consecutively since 2018.

In the context of ACG’s commitment to advancing sustainability and the SDGs and its membership in AASHE, the UN Academic Impact (UNAI), and the UN Global Compact (GC), we have submitted the following sustainability reports. All these reports are submitted every two years:

UNAI

As of May 31st 2017 The American College of Greece serves as a member of the UN Academic Impact. ACG joined over 1000 academic and research institutions in more than 120 countries that are members of UNAI. In Greece, ACG was the fifth academic institution to be a member and the first private one. As of July 2021, ten Greek institutions are UNAI members.

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) established in 2010, is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in promoting its global priorities, including peace, human rights and sustainable development through activities and research in a shared culture of intellectual social responsibility.

In the context of our membership, we have submitted two reports that showcase our commitment to six out of the ten principles in 2018 and 2020. Drawing from the 2018 report, ACG was featured on the UNAI website for the program Education Unites: From Camp to Campus.

Additionally, through our membership, eleven Deree-ACG students were selected in the United Nations Millennium Fellowship Program Class of 2020. In the context of this program, our students –the first Greek Millennium Fellowship cohort – organized the “UN SDGs Symposium: Exploring the DiverCity of Athens” in November 2020, in collaboration with the Office of Public Affairs.


UN SDSN

As of 2018 The American College of Greece serves as a member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) joining institutions and organizations, including universities, research institutions, foundations, civil society, in a unique network of problem solvers aiming at contributing to practical solutions for sustainable development.

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was established in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

In the context of our membership, we co-organized and hosted the first Symposium on Climate Change at ACG on April 3, 2019, and the interactive virtual discussion on “The role of the Greek Higher Education Institutions in promoting the SGDs” with Jeffrey Sachs, in collaboration with the National Technical University of Athens (NKUA) and the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), on March 30, 2021.  


UN SDSN – Youth member

As of March 2018, ACG is an official Member Organization of SDSN Youth.

SDSN Youth aims at working together with its Members Organizations in order to educate and empower youth globally to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides opportunities for them to create sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

In the context of our membership, we founded the ACG SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Student Hub in 2019, which the official student Hub of the Greek charter of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network at Deree. The Deree Hub is part of the global network of student hubs, where students can come together to learn about, engage with, and take action on the Sustainable Development Goals. 


CSR Hellas

As of January 2019, ACG is a member of the CSR Hellas Network.

CSR Hellas is a non-for-profit business association based in Athens, founded in June 2000 by a group of 3 business organizations and 13 companies, numbering more than 130 members today. It is the National Partner Organization (NPO) of CSR Europe, the leading European business organization for CSR, counting several members among the largest multinational companies as well as a network of more than 40 National Partner Organizations across Europe. Moreover, CSR Hellas hosts by 2008 the Coordinating Secretariat of the national Global Compact Hellenic Network of the United Nations (UN Global Compact Network Hellas) and is also representing in Greece the Global Network “CSR 360”.

In the context of our membership, we co-organized and hosted the first Summer School on Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility at ACG from September 23-27, 2019, which is now an annual executive education program, co-organized by CSR Hellas, University of Crete and the ALBA Executive Education, supported by the ACG Office of Public Affairs. In 2020 and 2021 the program adapted to a virtual webinar format due the Covid-19 restrictions. This initiative is the first full-fledged collaboration between a public and a private university and a business network in Greece.


UN Global Compact

As of January 2019, ACG has become a member of the UN Global Compact, a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.

In the context of our membership, we submitted our first UN GC Communication on Engagement Report, covering the two-year period from January 2019 – January 2021. The next report will be submitted in January 2023.


NGO Boroume

As of November 2018, ACG has signed a MoU with the NGO Boroume.

Boroume is a non-profit organization whose mission to reduce food waste and to fight malnutrition in Greece aligns perfectly with the ACG sustainability efforts in terms of social responsibility and community engagement.

In the context of our collaboration, we have adopted a farmers’ market at Cholargos – the ACG Farmers’ Market – where we volunteer on a weekly basis, every Monday, since November 2018. In November 2021, ACG adopted a second farmers’ market in Gerakas.

As of October 2020, ACG is a member of the Alliance for the Reduction of Food Waste, a group of public authorities, well-known companies, food and service businesses from all areas of the supply chain, social impact organizations, and academic and research institutions, coming together to prevent and reduce food waste in Greece. As members of the Alliance we submitted our first report on food waste prevention and reduction best practices in 2021. ACG has been featured in this report with eight (8) out of the 57 actions, the highest number of best practices and initiatives submitted by a single organization. 

The Alliance aims at raising awareness about this crucial issue, educating the public on how we can prevent food waste, highlighting and disseminating best practices, exchanging knowledge and ideas, promoting research and innovation, promoting and donating any surplus food to social impact organizations, and, most importantly, advocating for public policy on preventing and reducing food waste and food loss in Greece.

In the context of our ongoing collaboration with Boroume and our membership in the Alliance, we co-organized the interactive discussion “Love Food, Hate Waste: The importance of reducing food waste” on October 14, 2021. This event served as the kick-off to the campus-wide “ACG Food Waste Campaign: Reduce your FOODprint!”


NGO HOPEGenesis

As of September 2019, ACG has signed a MoU with the NGO HOPEGenesis.

HOPEGenesis is a non-profit organization in the field of medicine that addresses the issue of low birth rates in Greece. Its mission is to provide comprehensive medical care and treatment for women who become pregnant until the day they give birth. The organization focuses mainly on women who live in remote rural areas or isolated islands in Greece.

In the context of this collaboration, HOPEgenesis will be an active participant at the Mind Body Spirit Fest 2019, October 8-12, with a presentation and an information booth.

Stay up to date about all sustainability related initiatives, projects, events, and achievements at The American College of Greece through the Sustainability @ ACG Newsletter!

Here, you will find all past issues:

March 2021

July 2021

September 2021

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