Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.42
Liaison Mary-Lee Townsend
Submission Date Feb. 1, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Western University
PA-9: Sustainable Investment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.12 / 4.00 Connor Donald
Sustainability Coordinator
Facilities Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution wish to pursue Option 1 (positive sustainability investment)?:
Yes

Total value of the investment pool:
1,195,124,706 US/Canadian $

Value of holdings in each of the following categories:
Value of Holdings
Sustainable industries (e.g. renewable energy or sustainable forestry) 191,219,952.90 US/Canadian $
Businesses selected for exemplary sustainability performance (e.g. using criteria specified in a sustainable investment policy) 0 US/Canadian $
Sustainability investment funds (e.g. a renewable energy or impact investment fund) 0 US/Canadian $
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) or the equivalent 0 US/Canadian $
Socially responsible mutual funds with positive screens (or the equivalent) 10,003,193.78 US/Canadian $
Green revolving loan funds that are funded from the endowment 0 US/Canadian $

A brief description of the companies, funds, and/or institutions referenced above:

The investments in sustainable industries are those made by investment managers of the Operating & Endowment Fund. Sustainable industries can be defined as those that promote energy efficiency, resource conservation to meet the needs of future generations, safe and skill-enhancing working conditions, low waste production processes, and the use of safe and environmentally compatible materials.

The Socially responsible mutual fund with positive screens (or the equivalent) is managed by Aberdeen Asset Management and is available as an investment option that members of the defined contribution pension plan can choose to invest their pension account.


Percentage of the institution's investment pool in positive sustainability investments:
16.84

Does the institution wish to pursue Option 2 (investor engagement)?:
Yes

Does the institution have a publicly available sustainable investment policy?:
Yes

A copy of the sustainable investment policy:
The sustainable investment policy:

4.1 Introduction
The Investment Committee recognizes that environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors may have an impact on corporate performance over the long term, although the impact can vary by industry.

The Investment Committee has a fiduciary obligation to invest funds for the benefit of the University in the interests of endowment funds/donors. The University leaves the decision to exclude a stock to the investment managers hired to manage a portion of the portfolio, as they possess the necessary expertise and information to make the decision that is in the best interest of the Fund.

4.2 Engaging Companies and External Investment Firms
Given the relatively small size of the Fund and the fact that most investments are held in
pooled vehicles, it is not practical for the University to directly engage individual companies on ESG related issues, either through dialogue or by filing shareholder resolutions. Instead, the University will engage the external investment managers it hires to manage the Fund. The engagement will involve increasing the level of scrutiny on ESG factors. The University will maintain a registry, to be updated on an annual basis, with ESG related information on its external investment managers. The information may include, but is not limited to:
• the incorporation of ESG factors into the firm’s investment process;
• the firm’s target allocation for climate change related investments;
• the presence of a committee on sustainable investment;
• the portfolio’s exposure to fossil fuels, sustainable industries and high impact sectors;
and
• details about the firm’s proxy voting policy.

4.3 Advocacy and Collaboration
The University endeavours to remain up to date on sustainability investing issues and the impact of ESG factors on its Fund. In order to maintain its knowledge of the field of
sustainability investing and to contribute to its development, the University will liaise with other institutional investors and industry associations to discuss key issues.


Does the institution use its sustainable investment policy to select and guide investment managers?:
No

A brief description of how the policy is applied, including recent examples:
---

Has the institution engaged in proxy voting, either by its CIR or other committee or through the use of guidelines, to promote sustainability during the previous three years?:
Yes

A copy of the proxy voting guidelines or proxy record:
---

A brief description of how managers are adhering to proxy voting guidelines:

3.13 Proxy Voting

The exercise of voting rights acquired through any investment is delegated to the investment managers with the instruction to vote in favour of any proposal which, in their opinion, will accrue and enhance the investment value of the relevant security, and against any proposals which will unduly increase the risk level or reduce the investment value of the relevant security to the detriment of the Fund. However, when it would be in the University’s best interest to do so, the University reserves the right to exercise its voting rights. If the investment management firm, or any employee or associate of the investment management firm, has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any matter on which the Fund has a right to vote, it must be brought to the attention of the Committee which has discretion to:
i) instruct the investment manager to exercise the voting right in line with the principles
described above, on the grounds that the relevant pecuniary interest is not material; or,
ii) instruct the investment manager how to cast the Fund's vote, having considered the
principles described above; or,
iii) authorize the Fund's custodian/trustee to exercise the voting right in line with the
principles described above.


Has the institution filed or co-filed one or more shareholder resolutions that address sustainability or submitted one or more letters about social or environmental responsibility to a company in which it holds investments during the previous three years?:
No

Examples of how the institution has engaged with corporations in its portfolio about sustainability issues during the previous three years:

The University will maintain a registry, to be updated on an annual basis, with ESG related information on its external investment managers. The information may include, but is not limited to:
• the incorporation of ESG factors into the firm’s investment process;
• the firm’s target allocation for climate change related investments;
• the presence of a committee on sustainable investment;
• the portfolio’s exposure to fossil fuels, sustainable industries and high impact sectors;
and
• details about the firm’s proxy voting policy.


Does the institution have a publicly available investment policy with negative screens?:
No

A brief description of the negative screens and how they have been implemented:
---

Approximate percentage of the endowment that the negative screens apply to:
---

Does the institution engage in policy advocacy by participating in investor networks and/or engage in inter-organizational collaborations to share best practices?:
Yes

A brief description of the investor networks and/or collaborations:

The University is a member of the Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC). PIAC’s membership includes Canadian pension plans (both defined benefits and defined contributions) as well as endowments and foundations. Through attendance at PIAC’s semi-annual conferences and through submissions to various regulatory bodies, the University has been involved in discussions about best practices on how to integrate ESG factors into the investment process and on how to engage investment managers and companies on the subject.

Western University is also part of CAUBO. Founded in 1937, CAUBO is a non-profit professional organization representing the interests of administrative and financial officers in Canadian universities and affiliated colleges. CAUBO offers a wide
array of programs and services aimed at the many players in university
administration.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.