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Today, the fact that human activity impacts nature and climate in a harmful manner with direct consequences on the environment, society and the economy is an undisputed scientific reality. It is vital for today’s students -the leaders of tomorrow- to understand how sustainable development can reverse environmental degradation and the climate change spiral and mitigate their tremendous social and financial side effects.
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. In this context, the ACG Center of Excellence for Sustainability (CES), officially established in 2011, is a collaborative initiative, operating under the Office of Public Affairs, which leads all sustainability-related activity, bringing together education, research and operations to advance sustainability on campus.
ACG aims to be a national leader in sustainability among academic institutions, by actively contributing to a more inclusive, socially responsible, financially viable and environmentally sustainable society.
To raise awareness and engagement of ACG students with sustainability best practices and empower them to become knowledgeable, sensitized and responsible citizens of the world.
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, and through its institutional learning outcomes.
- 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. In the context of the campaign, a campus-wide policy banning plastic cups at offices was put in effect.
- We have established the following the “ACG Sustainability Leaders”, a dedicated volunteer student organization that engages with sustainability-related initiatives.
- 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, as a result of our collaborations and synergies with UN Sustainable SDSN and CSR Hellas: (a) The first “Symposium on Climate Change: Threats, Challenges, Solutions for Greece” at ACG, and (b) the first “Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Summer School” at ACG, a five-day workshop. As a result of our collaborations and synergies with UN Sustainable SDSN and CSR Hellas.
- 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!
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 (https://stars.aashe.org/ – 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
The Office of Public Affairs is happy to announce that, following the STARS Silver Rating achievement in 2017, ACG is further recognized for its sustainability efforts and best practices. ACG made for the first time the SIERRA Magazine “Cool Schools” list for 2018, aka the “greenest” colleges list!
In 2019, ACG was included on the “Cool Schools” list for the second consecutive year.
AASHE Sustainable Campus Index (SCI)
ACG has been, once again, recognized as a top performer in the 2020 Sustainable Campus Index, in the sustainability impacts areas of Wellbeing & Work, 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 Office of Public Affairs is happy to announce that the American College of Greece (ACG) is one of the 416 most environmentally responsible colleges according to the Princeton Review, for the third year in a row!
The Princeton Review chose the schools for its eleventh edition based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges in 2019-20 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points in the process of choosing schools for the guide. ACG achieved a 91 out of 99 in its “Green Rating”, a comprehensive measure of a school’s performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution.
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:
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 is the fifth academic institution to be a member and the first and only one private.
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.
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.
UN SDSN – Youth member
As of March 2018, ACG has become 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.
As of January 2019, ACG has become 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 Organisations 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.
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.
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 – the ACG Farmers’ Market – where we volunteer on a weekly basis, every Monday, since November 2018.
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.
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.
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.