On April 1, 2008, the School of International Service project was well underway, but the real beginning of American University's greening started this day when President Neil Kerwin signed the ACUPCC (American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment) before the full membership of the EIPT (Environmental Issues Project Team), later renamed the Sustainability Committee. This day marked the formal beginning of AU's commitment to reduce green house gas emissions, renew and continue recycling programs, and make a concerted effort campus-wide to have an ongoing impact on environmental issues. The ACUPCC carried with it some serious benchmarking goals and reporting and Dr. Kerwin pledged that the commitments would be met before the deadline.

A new building for the School of International Service had officially been in the planning, design, redesign, and documentation stage for 5-1/2 years, but it had been the dream of that school's Dean for almost twenty. To say it was the catalyst for the ACUPCC commitment would be an exaggeration, but two weeks before the signing ceremony demolition of the new building's construction site began. It made the building suddenly real and the commitment to ACUPCC more important and timely. William McDonough and Partners had designed a gem of a building and McDonough's world-wide reputation had rubbed off on the team, the students, the Alumnae, and the administration. The university's slogan, “American Dream Is Green,” was not only pertinent, it was coming alive in a 300 foot by 400 foot hole 54 feet deep. The start and stop dream of Dean Louis Goodman was actually happening.

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Author notes

1 AIA, MFA, LEED AP BD+C, Assistant University Architect, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, DC. 20016-8115, purcell@american.edu. (With Chris O'Brien, Director of Sustainability)