Green Initiatives at Colby

Composting and recycling initiatives in effect at Colby's first Green Graduation in 2008.Colby’s percentage of green electricity was the highest in the nation in a 2008 EPA contest; the College is committed to LEED certified green buildings; Dining Services has aggressively embraced green initiatives; the annual Project RESCUE sale earned a “best practice” label from EPA; and the College has ambitious recycling, composting, and water conservation programs.

Project RESCUE

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. In 2003 RESCUE was named a “best management practice” by the EPA. See a 2009 RESCUE video.

Green Power
Colby’s move to 100-percent renewable electricity sources, in 2003, helped establish a marketplace for green power in Maine. 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. Colby has been at the top of its category in the EPA's green power championships several years.
Green Buildings
Colby is committed to sustainable practices in all building projects. The College will design and build all new buildings to a minimum of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver standard. For renovations, design and construction will follow the LEED template and incorporate as many principles as possible. For all applicable projects, the College will apply for LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. All of Colby’s on-staff project managers are LEED-accredited professionals. In 2013 there were eight LEED buildings on campus.
Green Dining

Colby Dining Services is committed to conservation, energy efficiency, and waste reduction and has been a strong partner in Colby's sustainability initiatives. Initiatives include expanded use of local suppliers and organic food as well as compliance with sustainable fisheries programs. Dining Services personnel advise students at the on-campus organic garden, which provides produce for dining halls. Composting and recycling initiatives have received national recognition, and used cooking oil is reused in biodiesel fuel. Dining Services maintains a webpage about its environmental initiatives.

Colby began a formal recycling program in 1989, an initiative led by a concerned student. Now the College collects, on average, 13 tons of paper and cardboard each month. The College participates in RecycleMania, a competition among colleges and universities, and in 2012 Colby was 20th out of the 179 schools in paper recycling and 15th of 138 schools in composting (food service organics).
Colby composts food waste from dining halls and yard waste from lawns and gardens. Since 2002 Colby has separated food waste, which allowed the removal of seven garbage disposals from food-service kitchens. More than 100 tons of pre- and postconsumer food waste is composted each year.
Water Conservation
Colby's Energy Star-rated front-loading washers save approximately 1 million gallons of water each year compared to old washers and require only 25 percent as much detergent. Trayless dining halls save thousands of gallons of water. Excess water from geothermal wells in the alumni center is used for toilets and irrigation. Reduced-flow showerheads and toilets are installed throughout campus, and rain gauges minimize the use of outdoor sprinklers.
Green Printing
Since 2007 Colby has followed sustainability guidelines for all jobs printed through the Office of Communications, and major print jobs were moved to digital-only media, drastically reducing paper use. For print publications, only green-certified, 100-percent postconsumer recycled papers manufactured using alternative fuels are used. All jobs printed use vegetable oil-based inks.
Belgrade Lakes Watershed Sustainability Project
A consortium including seven faculty members and more than a dozen student researchers each year is working to understand the impact of landscape and lake-ecosystem changes in the Belgrade Lakes region. The region provides a unique laboratory to understand the complex dynamics of environmental, biogeochemical, and socioeconomic systems. The project is supported by the National Science Foundation through a Maine EPSCoR grant. (See video from fall 2010.)
Last Updated: 10/22/09 10:39 AM