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Greening Initiatives:

Get more information and background on the various ongoing sustainability- and climate-change-related initiatives at UVM.

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Sustainability initiatives at higher education institutions around Vermont

The University of Vermont, and many other Vermont institutions, are signatories of the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, which requires Colleges and Universities to report their greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a plan to work for climate neutrality. Higher education institutions around Vermont are conducting important research and implementing intitiatives that relate to the mission of the Vermont Climate Collaborative.

We seek to collect information on these intitiatives and need your help in filling out this list. Some initial examples are:

  • The Office of Sustainability at the University of Vermont coordinates on-campus activities while bringing together teaching, research, and outreach with the operations of the University. The Office of Sustainability coordinates the work of the President's Commission on Sustainability, which will help to develop the Climate Change Action Plan called for by the President's Climate Commitment.
  • The Sterling College community, including students, faculty, and staff, is driven by the College's mission to both enact ecological principles in our institutional operations and empower students to serve as knowledgeable and mindful stewards of the environment.
    • Facilities include solar- and wind-powered barns, a partly passive solar library designed for natural lighting, radiant floor heating in both the library and Merlin Residence, and a student common room heated by a wood-pellet stove. A woodchip gasifier will be installed in the spring of 2009 to produce electricity (and possibly heat a greenhouse with its excess heat).
    • The campus does not use paper cups, dinning trays, or sell bottled beverages of any kind and all the napkins and paper towels are made of recycled fiber. Also, Simple Green, a non-toxic, biodegradable product is used for nearly all the cleaning on campus.
    • The College provides a portion of it's own food with their certified organic gardens that grow about 25% of the food (about 8065 lbs in 2007), and raise some of their own beef, pork, and chicken (for both eggs and meat). Additionally, food scraps are composted and combined with manure to be spread on their fields (about 15, 500 lbs annually). Most of the field and logging work is done with a team of draft horses and oxen. In the spring, they collect sap and boil maple syrup in their sugarhouse, using wood harvested from their woodlot.
    • In addition, students at Sterling College have initiated several projects that are now a part of the school's activities.
  • Educating for sustainability is central to the mission of Green Mountain College, a subset of the ongoing initiatives at GMC are listed below:
    • GMC was the first Vermont higher education institution to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Their baseline greenhouse gas inventory is completed and they are working on their plan for carbon neutrality. [Contact: Provost William M. Throop; email: throopw@greenmtn.edu]
    • The College was the EPA's first Energy Star Showcase Campus (1998), a recognition earned when the school completed a campus-wide retrofit of its light fixtures for compact fluorescent bulbs, and installed low-flush toilets and low-flow showers.
    • The College purchases more than half of its electricity through the Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) "Cow Power" Program. The College has paid a $50,000 per year premium in energy purchases to support Vermont dairy farms that sequester methane from manure to produce electricity. Although more expensive than other renewable energy credits, cow power is integrated into the curriculum and enhances economic and social sustainability in our bioregion. This commitment, coupled with other energy programs, has earned the College recognition in the EPA's Green Power Partnership program (2007) at the "Leadership Club" level.
    • To increase thermal efficiency, the facilities team has replaced underground steam pipes, installed remote control thermostats, and is replacing windows in residence halls to decrease heat transfer.
    • The College's dining services - operated by Chartwells - annually purchases 15% of its food locally. The College has adopted food purchasing guidelines to increase this to 25% by 2010. Chartwells encourages food waste reduction through Project: Clean Plate, and promotes environmentally sensitive practices in its own operations through Project: Green Thumb.
    • In the past four years, all new residence hall and office furnishings have been purchased from local and regional manufacturers, using sustainably harvested Vermont-grown and milled forest products ($300,000). All new carpeting is made from recycled products.
    • The College's 18-acre farm is a living sustainability laboratory. The farm runs a CSA program with organically grown vegetables and flowers, and raises sheep, chickens, ducks, and two draft oxen. It regularly supplies the campus dining hall with eggs and produce in season. In 2008, the farm received an $110,000 grant to demonstrate the viability of fossil fuel-free agriculture in the region.
    • The College maintains an 80-acre nature preserve for field study and recreation, and actively engages in the protection and restoration of the Poultney River riparian zone through invasive species management and use restriction policies.
    • In 2008, the College acquired the funding to convert the current campus oil heating system to biomass. The project should be complete by January 2010.
    • Students at GMC are engaged in many of the above sustainability projects; however see the following list of sustainability projects initiated by students.
  • Champlain College students and staff have an on-campus group, Sustain Champlain, that seeks ways for the campus to reduce its collective footprint. Champlain College also recently published an emissions inventory (pdf), developed by Spring Hill Solutions, that suggested its footprint is quite low.
  • The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) has been applying sustainable measures in their kitchens and restaurants for over ten years.
    • They worked with Efficiency Vermont on lighting and motor upgrades, use energy efficient induction cooktops and water-saving technology on dish washering machines, and tied refrigeration units into building heat loops to provide co-generated heat back into the building during the winter.
    • NECI is a founding member and promoter of the Vermont Fresh Network and participates in The Slow Food Movement. Their restaurant outlets and curricula stress benefits of using local foods and contributing to sustainable economies.
    • They worked with the Vermont Compost Company to develop a model for commercial composting for restaurants and cafeterias that has become a standard in Central Vermont. NECI restaurants at the Inn at Essex ship food waste to the Intervale for composting, and they recycle waste oil by trading it for produce from Cate Farm, a local organic grower who uses the oil to power farm equipment and heat greenhouses.
  • The Vermont campus of World Learning / SIT Graduate Institute has taken numerous, measurable steps to achieve environmental sustainability and reduce operating costs since 2005. These initiatives are outlined in this summary of achieved conservation initiatives(pdf). Many of these accomplishments decrease our energy usage and support World Learning's public endorsement in May 2008 as a signatory to the American Colleges and Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment.
    • World Learning's affirmation of this environmental agreement formalizes our planning process through an Environmental Task Force for both short and long-term conservation initiatives that will decrease energy usage and the "carbon footprint" of the organization. Provided is an outline of the Presidents' Climate Commitment action steps and progress. The task force has a deadline of November 15 to submit short-term, carbon-reduction responses to the reporting authority, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
    • As part of its commitment to carbon reduction, Provost Adam Weinberg instituted an Environmental Task Force whose duties include identification and reduction of energy consumption and other carbon sources to eventually produce carbon neutrality for the Brattleboro campus. The Task Force is in its nascent stages and will require support from Facilities as well as staff, faculty, student, and administration representatives to successfully accomplish its goals. The committee may also require the advice of local green consultants as the campus begins to realize and achieve carbon neutrality.
    • Complementing and predating the efforts of the Environmental Task Force is a coalition of students, staff, and faculty inspired by two alumnae who sought to facilitate continuity within the environmental movement on campus. This Environmental Working Group lives its mission to "create a culture of environmental understanding and action, thus enriching a deep commitment to global citizenship through: advocating that SIT reduce its ecological footprint; enhancing SIT's mission through the recognition that responsible global citizenship requires environmental awareness and sustainability; and, providing opportunities for the WL/SIT community to engage in environmental projects both on campus and in the broader communities where we live and work."

Last modified January 13 2009 02:36 PM

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