Endowment Value: $3.7 billion (June 2021)
Amherst College is a private college located in Amherst, Massachusetts. The endowment is managed by the Amherst College Office of Investment and Investment Committee.
Amherst currently partners with 73 sustainable investment managers, who in turn invest in public stocks, bonds, real estate, private companies, natural resources, and other assets. Each of these independent managers operates with full discretion to buy, sell, or trade a range of securities. Amherst aims to invest with managers who thoughtfully and consistently incorporate ESG factors into their investment process. The Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Office of Investment have the important task of determining where the college should invest its capital. The College does not have the ability to dictate which securities its independent managers should buy or to avoid, as Amherst’s assets are almost always invested in partnerships alongside other investors. However, Amherst does encourage its investment partners to “thoughtfully and consistently incorporate environmental considerations into the investment process.” Investment managers are aware that sustainability is an important consideration for the college in making investments. They are also aware of how important sustainable investing principles are to their continued ability to attract investment dollars.
Over the past decade, Amherst College has taken significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus, including switching to lower-carbon fuel sources, adding a co-generation plant to create heat and electricity from those fuel sources more efficiently, designing and constructing buildings following a high-performance building standard, and completing recommissioning and deep energy retrofits of existing buildings to further improve campus energy efficiency. As a result, Amherst has seen a 30 percent reduction in emissions from its 2006 emissions levels.
In 2015, the Amherst College Board of Trustees approved a Statement on Sustainability and Investment Policy, which acknowledged the grave threat posed by the climate crisis and supported the development of a strategy for achieving carbon-neutrality on campus. The College pledged to “adopt policies that embed sustainability in its operations, in its investment process, and its life as a community,” and declared it would regularly report progress to the Amherst community. In 2017, the College also developed a plan to go “beyond carbon neutral,” which would apply a carbon tax to Amherst’s emissions in 2035. Additionally, Amherst plans to fund projects that will decarbonize the campus.
Amherst is a member of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network founded by Ceres, a nonprofit organization advocating for sustainability leadership. "As part of our involvement with the INCR, the College has supported two letter-writing initiatives: one to the finance ministers of the Group of Seven in support of a long-term global emissions reduction goal and one in support of the White House’s proposal to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by at least 45% below 2012 levels by 2025." In 2017, the College also became a signatory to the “We Are Still In Campaign” to demonstrate its commitment to delivering on the Paris Agreement’s goals.
Proxy Voting Policy - Amherst College continues to use its shareholder voting rights to promote the principles of sustainable and responsible investment, utilizing research from ISS for all proxies before casting votes in alignment with these principles. The College continues to proactively evaluate and vote shareholder proxies in alignment with ESG principles, advocating for corporate accountability on social, ethical, environmental, and governance issues.
In 2019, Amherst announced its plan to go carbon neutral by 2030. The College plans to use geothermal and solar energy to achieve this goal. The Board of Trustees mentioned that the school will not rely on carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality and will instead focus on diminishing its dependence on fossil fuels while increasing its usage of renewable energy.
Amherst College is a participant or member of the following Initiatives & Commitments:
- AASHE STARS: Yes, Silver (2019)
- ACUPCC: No
- Billion Dollar Green Challenge: No
- CDP: No
- Committee for Investor Responsibility: Yes: Advisory Committee on SRI
- Divestment Goal: Yes, divestment from fossil fuels by 2030
- INCR: Yes, member since 2015
- Montreal Carbon Pledge: No
- Sustainable Investment Fund: Yes
- Sustainable Investment Policy: Yes
- Principles for Responsible Investment: No
Other Sustainable Investing Practices: