Implementation Updates

Fiscal Year 2012 represented our first full year of implementation.  By all accounts, it was a successful year.  All projects were either fully implemented or significant progress was made for each mitigation strategy.  The 2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory (will be released in early 2013) will reveal the impacts these projects have had on our campus carbon footprint.  In the interim, we would like to provide a quick summary for some of our projects.

The Green Office Program (4.1.1) exceeded our goal of 10 new offices for 2012.  We currently have 16 offices registered in the program and 10 offices received official "Green Office Certification."  We estimate that the energy, paper, and waste savings associated with this program saved the university over $30,000 in operating costs and reduced our campus carbon footprint by over 50 tons. 

Eric Spencer '12 served as the Green Living Program (4.1.2) coordinator for the 2011-12 academic year.  Under Eric's leadership, we held successful Eco-Olympics and RecycleMania competitions.  Each of these events helped to raise awareness and promote sustainable behavior among the student body.  As a result of RecycleMania and other efforts, in FY 2012, we reduced the amount of garbage sent to the county landfill by 72,000 pounds or by 5 percent. This saved the university over $2,000 in tipping fees and reduced our campus carbon footprint by over 12,000 pounds. Moreover, this year marked the fifth consecutive year we reduced the amount of waste generated per person from 56 pounds per person per month in 2008 down to 44 pounds per person per month in 2012.

Reunion 2012 featured many green initiatives including a zero waste lunch and dinner (Green Events 4.1.3).  Altogether, we served over 2,000 alumni and either composted or recycled all waste associated with these events. 

Colgate's Grounds Department converted over 10 acres of land into 'Reduced Mow' Areas (4.4.1).  Allowing regeneration of the vegetation increases carbon sequestration, wildflowers and pollinators and reduces emissions associated with mowing and expenditures on gasoline and labor.  Importantly, staff time is freed up to attend to other important priorities on campus.

Colgate's Purchasing Department implemented a $50 Minimum Purchase Order Policy (4.5.4) up from $35 in previous years.  Increasing the minimum departmental purchase order from the current $35 to $50 resulted in significantly fewer deliveries to campus.  In 2010, Colgate administrative staff placed over 440 orders to Staples that were under $50.  This new policy reduced the number of vehicle trips to campus from our suppliers thus reducing congestion, cost, and emissions associated with fuel use. This strategy also resulted in combined orders which had a modest reduction in the amount of packaging that enters campus.  We conservatively estimate a 1% reduction (8 tons) in annual landfill waste from our 2009 baseline year and a $500 savings in tipping fees.

EcoCampus LLC is a newly created student-run business that provides employees and students green office products.  Their landmark product is tree-free, carbon-neutral paper (4.5.5).  Brendan Karson '13 and Ryan Smith '13 developed their company through the Thought Into Action Institute, a program that provides Colgate students with advice from alumni on proposing and creating entrepreneurial opportunities.  In the Spring 2012 semester, EcoCampus became just one of three approved vendors (alongside OfficeMax and Staples).  They are currently serving over 30 offices on campus with green office products while helping Colgate achieve its goal of carbon neutrality through the purchase and use of tree-free paper. 

Colgate joined an online rideshare program (4.6.1) called Purpool.  Purpool is open only to the Colgate community, so user information will not be shared publicly. Only employee names, emails, and zip codes will be shared among the Colgate community.  We continue to promote this program through our annual commuter survey.

Students in ENST 390 (fall 2011) with Professor April Baptiste researched the feasibility of a long-term Reforestation Project (4.4.2).  After exploring many options including location, species of tree, cost, rates of carbon sequestration, and others, they recommended planting an acre of black locust on an area north of the old ski hill.  Students in collaboration with local cub scouts planted about 500 trees on Earth Day 2012.  This area was previously mowed and we estimate the site will sequester about 4 tons of carbon this year.  We plan on continuing this project on an annual basis over the next 15 years. 

Composting (4.8.1) pre-consumer food waste from Frank Dining Hall, which began as a student-led pilot program, is now a full-time operation (.  We are currently composting a few hundred pounds of food scraps and animal bedding each week at a site on the main campus near the first-year parking lot. 

One of the highlights of our first year was the Low-flow Showerhead Project (4.9.1) in first year housing.  Altogether, over 130 showerheads were replaced in Andrews, Drake, Curtis, East, Stillman, and West Halls.  The showerheads were replaced during the summer of 2011 before the incoming class arrived.  The Moen showerheads performed well and reduced our water consumption by one-gallon per minute per shower.  In total, this reduced our water consumption by well over 1,000,000 gallons in 12 months.  The project cost less than $4,000 to implement (including labor and the purchase of the new showerheads) and our return on investment (ROI) was less than two months.  This savings includes water and sewer rates but does not include energy savings for heating the water.  We estimate that this project saved the university over $20,000 in water and energy costs and reduced our campus carbon footprint by about 50 tons. 

In the summer of 2012, we changed out an additional 455 showerheads throughout campus.  We anticipate much greater water and energy savings in Fiscal Year 2013.

In Fiscal Year 2012, Colgate entered into an innovative agreement with Patagonia Sur for the purchase of 5,000 tons of forestry-based carbon offsets (4.10.4) per year for 15 years.  This reforestation project is in The Patagonia Sur Nature Reserve in southern Chile.  Approximately 225,000 native trees will be planted on roughly 428 acres of land which will become the Colgate University Forest.  Patagonia Sur offsets will effectively mitigate the university's emissions associated with air travel.  In January 2012, a small team of Colgate faculty, staff, and a student visited the Colgate Forest for the first time.  This resulted in a research project by Sonya Falcone '12 investigating an archeological site where we found human remains in a cave in the Melimoyu region.  Colin Shipley '14 also spent the summer in Patagonia researching renewable energy technologies for the Patagonia Sur properties.