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Colby is committed to practices and policies that respect the environment and promote sustainable living principles. Pioneering academic programs and a historical commitment to green values made Colby a leader in environmental initiatives, and success is evident—in its dramatic reduction of carbon emissions, the effectiveness of the Environmental Advisory Group, and innovative environmental initiatives throughout the organization. Many of the efforts highlighted below are supported or even spearheaded by students and faculty within the ES program.
Environmental Advisory Group
Award Winning Green Power Practices
Colby’s move to 100-percent renewable electricity sources, in 2003, helped establish a market for green power in Maine and led to national recognition for green power use. Purchased electricity has come from hydro, wind, and biomass. An on-campus cogeneration turbine supplies about 10 percent of the campus's electrical needs from steam-plant exhaust, and the College buys Green-E certified renewable energy credits for specific projects. In the EPA's green power championships, Colby had the highest percentage among participating colleges and universities nationwide in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and had the second-highest percentage in 2009-10. Reducing Energy Usage Green buildings and LEED Certification Colby has established a goal for all new buildings constructed to minimum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver standard. All on-staff project managers are LEED-accredited professionals. As of 2010, Colby has five LEED buildings, including two LEED silver and two renovated dormitories rated LEED gold (Pierce renovation (LEED Gold), Perkins-Wilson renovation (LEED Gold), Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center (LEED Silver), Cotter Union/Bookstore project (LEED Silver), and Diamond Building (LEED)
Geothermal is used in the LEED Silver Building, the Schair Swenson Watson Alumni Center. Geothermal works for both heating and cooling due to the water temperature at 1,500 feet remains consistently in the mid to upper 50s. When that water is pumped up into the building in the summer it is relatively cool compared to ambient air temperatures and it helps cool the building; in winter it's relatively warm and heats the building as its warmth is transferred to liquid in the building's heating and cooling systems.
American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment President Adams, along with over 500 college presidents has signed the commitment pledge to exercise leadership by modeling ways to integrate sustainability into campus operations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide students with the knowledge they need to work toward climate neutrality.
Governor's Carbon Challenge
Colby met the Governor's Carbon Challenge, which stipulated that we should, by 2010, reduce our emissions from 1990 levels by 9 percent. Two years before the deadline, Colby reduced emissions by 32 percent (10.6% net decrease). Carbon Neutrality Pledge Colby’s 2010 Colby College Climate Action Plan commits the college to being carbon neutral by 2015.
Excess water from the geothermal wells is used in and around the Alumni Center for toilets and irrigation. Rain gauges have been installed to control sprinkler use only when necessary. Reduced-flow showerheads and toilets have been installed in dorms. Composting continues to save thousands of gallons every year after removing the garbage disposals.
Removal of bottled water from campus: A three year student led campaign (Sarah Sorenson '11 leading the campaign) to remove bottled water from campus has successfully eliminated bottled water from catered events on campus, including meals, lectures, and meetings, and from campus-wide events such as commencement, reunion weekend, and orientation. In addition, the campus bookstore and spa have also stopped selling bottled water and on April 22, 2011 Athletics also agreed to stop the use of bottled water.
Trayless Dining: The Colby dining halls implemented trayless dining in 2008, saving approximately 79,000 gallons of water and 50 tons of food waste annually.
Sustainable Seafood: “The Fish List” is a nationally recognized guideline for making eco-friendly and sustainable seafood purchasing choices. In response to concerns about overfishing and destructive fishing practices, Colby has established a policy that adheres to this List in the dining services board meal plan.
Local Food: Buying locally can make a dramatic impact on the environment and our local economy. Less transportation distance reduces carbon dioxide emissions as well as packaging being used. It keeps dollars in our local economy and the food tastes fresher. Colby works with over 100 local growers, processors, and manufacturers to bring students fresh produce and goods from the State of Maine. Colby and North Center, our major food supplier, practice a “Maine First” policy and use out of state goods only when native is not available. This emphasis on buying locally has led to 20% of Colby’s total Dining Services budget going to local food and supplies.
Organic Food: Organic food is food raised or grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. All three dining halls consistently serve a selection of organic foods. The Foss dining hall is particularly notable because it specializes in vegan and vegetarian fare with over 29 organic items available on the menu.
Composting: Colby composts over 100 tons of pre- and post-consumer waste. Our composting and recycling initiatives have been recognized nationally.
Sustainable Catering Menu: In response to an increased demand for sustainable options for catered events, Dining Services has a new menu featuring many local and organic items. The staff has increased composting at catered meals, and serving water in pitchers rather than plastic bottles. When using paper plates, biodegradable Chinet has replaced the black plastic plates previously used.
RESCUE (Recycle Everything, Save Colby’s Usable Excess) started in 2001-02 to capture clothing, household items, furniture, appliances, and other items that departing students leave behind. Now clothing and furniture are donated to local nonprofits and other items are cleaned and stored for sale the following fall, taking literally tons of material out of the waste stream for reuse. On an annual basis this sale saves approximately 525 cubic yards of usable goods from going to landfills. In 2003 RESCUE was named a “best management practice” by the EPA.
The entire 714-acre Colby campus is a State Wildlife Management Area. Colby's Perkins Arboretum is a 128-acre wildlife refuge used as an outdoor laboratory and also has cross-country running and ski trails. The Colby-Marston Preserve is a 34-acre classic kettle-hole sphagnum bog and is a National Park Service Registered National Landmark. MAP
In 2008 the Colby organic garden moved from an off-campus site to the top of Runnals Hill, a campus landmark. The move allowed the plot to grow to half an acre. During the growing season the garden provides over 1,000 lbs of food to the Colby dining halls and local food pantry. During the summer Colby hires students as interns to manage the garden. A short student made video on the garden.
Visit the COFGA website: http://web.colby.edu/cofga/
The Green Living and Purchasing Guide
This guide was developed by Jessica Kellett '04 as a January independent study project and was sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program, Dean of Students Office, and the Environmental Advisory Group. It has been updated since with changes made in 2010 and 2011. The purchases and lifestyle choices made by Colby students affect Colby's environmental footprint and the total energy and resources used on campus. The goals of this document are to promote environmental stewardship and awareness among Colby students. Students are encouraged to consider the potential impacts of each purchase they make as they furnish their dorm rooms. Students should consider purchasing communal appliances and using appliances and supplies already made available for their use in dorm rooms and on campus. Go to the Guide.
Visit Green Colby for more information on campus sustainability initiatives.