College remains committed to going green
The 2010-11 Colby College Sustainability Report, released earlier this month, is a testament to the College’s continued commitment to going green and proof that the College is still passionate about its goals of moving toward a healthier environment.
Prior to this report, the College surpassed its 2005 commitment to the Governor’s Carbon Challenge to reduce emissions by nine percent by 2010 and 20 percent by 2020. In 2007, the College had already reduced emissions by 32 percent from its emission levels in the 1990s.
Oak Professor of Biological Sciences Russ Cole, a member of the Environmental Advisory Group (EAG), said, “An environmental studies major [Jamie O’Connell ’08] did a thesis on Colby’s carbon emissions. This was the birth of the early modeling of Colby’s emissions.” Now students and faculty at the College have developed working partnerships with the Belgrade Lakes Watershed Sustainability Project, Maine Lakes Resource Center and the Bigelow Laboratory in working to make the College more environmentally sustainable.
The results of these partnerships are evident around the campus. The biomass boiler expansion, the largest and most ambitious of all the endeavours, is ready to test operations this October and will begin generating steam power in Jan. 2012. It will use 22,000 tons of wood, using waste wood and debris acquired from within a 50-mile radius of the Hill so that no prime trees will be felled. This pushes the College closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2015 by making the College “carbon lean.” The biomass boiler is expected to attain the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver certification, a significantly high commendation for attaining sustainability.
The College has seen a recent increase in initiatives largely inspired by students and their hunger for change and sustainability. Student initiatives such as “Take Back the Tap”—aimed at eliminating bottled water use on campus—have demonstrated students’ dedication to environmentalism on campus and off.
O’Connell’s thesis on the College’s carbon emissions helped to form “[a great] partnership among different groups within Colby and those affiliated with Colby—students, administration, the City of Waterville and local lake association—and now a few years later we have…a Waterville Committee aimed at Sustainability and Colby’s usage of green electricity,” Cole said.
The College is proud of its U.S. Green Building Council LEED certifications—Pierce Hall, Goddard-Hodgkins Hall and Perkins-Wilson Hall have all received Gold certifications—and the biomass plant, which will save the College approximately $1 million annually. There are further plans already underway for the current academic year to better achieve the College’s sustainability goals. The College plans to create an Office of Sustainability on campus, which will be entirely dedicated to sustainability efforts and working toward some of the largest environmental issues on the Hill: carbon neutrality and environmental awareness.
The full 2010-11 Colby Sustainability Report can be accessed at the following link found on the Green Colby homepage.