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Carbon Neutrality FAQ

By Sustainability Office on March 15, 2018

Colgate is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2019. To reach this goal, we are exploring a variety of options to offset the emissions we can’t yet reduce. The below answers to some of our most frequently asked questions will help you to gain a better understanding of what carbon neutrality is and why it is important to Colgate:

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon and/or greenhouse gas emitted directly or indirectly by an entity. Each member of the Colgate community has their own carbon footprint associated with things like travel, home energy use, purchasing and food. You can calculate your personal carbon footprint here. Colgate University also has a carbon footprint, encompassing emissions from waste, building heating and cooling, fertilizer use, electricity, business travel, employee commuting and paper procurement. Many of these emissions are associated with the use of fossil fuels. These greenhouse gas emissions from our campus and our personal lives contribute to global climate change.

What is the difference between gross emissions and net emissions?

Our gross emissions are the total emissions produced by Colgate’s buildings and business functions. Our net emissions represent our campus emissions after taking offsets into consideration.

What is Colgate’s Carbon Footprint?

In Fiscal Year 2017 Colgate emitted 13,233 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2). Since 2009, we have reduced our net campus carbon footprint by 8,632 MTeCO2, representing a 51% reduction. 2017 State of Sustainability Report

What does it mean to be Carbon Neutral?

To be carbon neutral is to have zero net emissions. This means offsetting whatever emissions we cannot reduce organically.

What has Colgate already done to reduce its carbon footprint?

Colgate has reduced its gross carbon emissions by 21% since 2009. This is a result of building and renewable energy projects like the geothermal heat exchange system beneath the Chapel House and the solar thermal array installed at 100 Broad. Peer-to-peer education programs have also helped to change behavior across campus and reduce emissions.

Why can’t we reduce all of our emissions to zero? Why do we need to offset to be carbon neutral?

Some forms of emissions are nearly impossible to eliminate without extraordinary cost or disruption to the university’s academic mission. For example, over 40% (6,147MTeCO2)  of our campus’ gross emissions comes from commuting and business (air and ground) travel. Travel is essential for faculty research, admission, and institutional advancement. So, to compliment emission reduction strategies on campus, Colgate has resolved to invest in carbon offsets.

What does it mean to offset emissions?

An investment in carbon offsets is an investment in a project or program that reduces or eliminates emissions elsewhere. Common offset projects include investments in renewable energy, methane capture, and reforestation projects.  In recent years, the practice of offsetting emissions has become commonplace for a variety of institutions and is seen as an environmentally responsible decision. Colgate’s existing Patagonia offset program aims to restore a forest in Chile. Additional trees and sustainable land management practices allow the forest to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere. Colgate’s financial investment facilitated additional carbon sequestration, allowing us to account for this carbon reduction.

Do carbon offsets actually make a difference when it comes to climate change?

Yes, in fact, carbon offsets are a very useful climate change mitigation tool. By investing in carbon offsets, an organization invests in something that will benefit the environment by either reducing or eliminating emissions. Carbon offsets projects and programs also go through a verification process. Many times, offsets go through a third-party validation and verification process through organizations like the American Carbon Registry. There is also an emerging peer review model used to verify some carbon offset projects.

Why is Colgate’s Carbon Neutrality date so soon? Why not wait?

As outlined in our 2011 Climate Action Plan, Colgate decided to respond to the ongoing and increasing threat of climate change by setting a 2019 carbon neutrality date. Our institution recognized that climate change is happening now and agreed that we need to begin taking responsibility for our emissions. In 2019, we will begin to hold our institution financially accountable for our carbon footprint. In doing so, offset costs factor into decision-making processes, creating an incentive to further reduce our gross campus emissions. 

Why is it important for Colgate to achieve carbon neutrality?

The Thirteen Goals of a Colgate Education reflect the values of our institution and sustainability is a key theme throughout. We cannot expect our students to develop a respect for the environment if our institution does not model the same behavior. Colgate can uphold its value of environmental stewardship by addressing climate change with a sense of urgency.

What happens after 2019?

We will be carbon neutral in 2019, but that doesn’t mean our work is done. We will continue to focus on reducing our gross campus emissions through the new Green Revolving Loan Fund, student programs, and continued employee education. We will make community resilience and climate preparedness a top priority and continue to build a culture of environmental and social responsibility at Colgate.

Visit colgate.edu/carbon for more information about Colgate’s commitment to carbon neutrality. Learn more about the carbon offset options we are exploring here.

2018 Carbon Offset Interim Report

By Sustainability Office on March 15, 2018

Colgate University accepts responsibility for its contribution to global climate change and is preparing to thrive in a low-carbon future.  By achieving carbon neutrality in 2019, Colgate is committed to 1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions on campus and 2) investing in high-quality carbon offset projects that eliminate remaining emissions from Colgate’s operations. Significant sources of emissions such as air travel, commuting, ground transportation, and some forms of energy use are currently impossible to eliminate without extraordinary cost or disruption to our academic mission. Since Colgate cannot eliminate all on-campus emissions by 2019, purchasing offsets to achieve carbon neutrality is necessary.  Investing in offsets creates an opportunity for education and innovation.  It also creates a strong financial incentive to reduce on-campus emissions that would obviate the need to purchase future offsets on an annual and ongoing basis.  While implementing on-campus projects that continue to reduce Colgate’s greenhouse gas emissions remains the top priority, the university must also choose among a myriad of carbon offsets options to achieve its institutional goal of carbon neutrality by 2019.

The Carbon Offsets Working Group was established during the 2016 fall semester to research carbon offset options and propose recommendations for investing in offsets to help meet our 2019 carbon neutrality goal.  The Carbon Offsets Working Group is a subcommittee of the Sustainability Council.  The Working Group has met over a dozen times since its formation and has completed a number of research efforts between meetings. This research includes: a review of reports and approaches developed by other institutions, interviews with colleagues at other colleges and universities (e.g., Duke, Middlebury, Clarkson, and others), interviews with organizations who specialize in various aspects of project development and the offset market (e.g., Second Nature, TerraCarbon, Bluesource, Renewable Choice), conversations with members of Students for Environmental Action (a student organization on campus), and collaboration with ENST 390 students throughout the 2017 fall semester with their research project on forest carbon offsets.

As specified in Colgate’s Bicentennial Plan for a Sustainable and Carbon Neutral Campus, the Working Group is evaluating and recommending offset options that:

  • consider renewable energy certificates (RECs) or green tags to mitigate Colgate’s emissions associated with electricity consumption;
  • place a high value on academic and research opportunities;
  • consider community-based and/or local investment options;
  • are high-quality offsets that are either third-party certified or have direct and measurable carbon and community benefits;
  • consider options for socially responsible, community-based, economic, and environmental co-benefits;
  • make appropriate budgetary recommendations for Fiscal Year 2019.

The purpose of the attached interim report is to provide an initial assessment of our research that includes a list of the most promising offset options for the university to consider. 2018 Offset Interim Report

The United Kingdom: Is Sust a Must or a Bust? Part 2

By Sustainability Office on March 7, 2018

– Madison Smith ’19

In the fall, I wrote a short blog post about my initial reactions to sustainability in Manchester, England during my semester abroad. My observations included accessible recycling, vast bike paths, and a variety of vegan and vegetarian food options. In general, it seemed like the U.K. had sustainability at the forefront of their decision-making. I even went so far as to say that the United States should use the U.K. as a model for basic sustainable practices. After researching beyond just surface-level environmentalism, however, I no longer fully believe that statement holds true.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental hazard in the United Kingdom. Despite easier access to bike lanes and public transportation than we have in the U.S., air pollution levels have risen dramatically in the past few decades as the demand for personal motor vehicles has increased. According to the European Union’s record of air quality standards, the U.K. regularly exceeds the legal limits of both nitrous oxides and small particulate matter. The World Health Organization highlights how these substances are harmful to not only the environment, but also human health, and can lead to different cancers, respiratory diseases, and premature deaths. These adverse health impacts do not impact U.K. residents equally, indicating a strong case of environmental injustice.

Sources of air pollution, such as major roadways and factories, are often placed in areas with low-income families and people of color. A study done by Craig et al. in 2008 found that over half of all carcinogenic emissions exist in the neighborhoods where people with the bottom 10% income levels reside. Additionally, people of color are four times more likely to be considered “low-income” than white people in the U.K. (Craig et al., 2008). This exhibits how wealthier people have more political clout and face less discrimination when governments are planning where to locate environmental hazards. Additionally, it demonstrates how institutions have kept many non-white families in low-income positions, thus quieting their voices and decision-making power when it comes to adverse  problems like air pollution. Environmental injustice is already widely prevalent in the United States, therefore the U.S. should not attempt to emulate the U.K. when it comes to combating environmental issues, but rather a country that prioritizes the wellbeing of all people.

While recycling, energy efficient light bulbs, and well labeled menus are important in the fight for a more sustainable world, their absence does not necessarily negatively impact the quality of life of marginalized communities. What I have realized in my semester abroad is that a country can do a lot to make themselves appear “green”. What matters more, though, are the underlying, significant externalities that are not advertised. It is a sad reality that issues impacting  minorities and low-income earners are often the ones that are ignored. The first step in fixing these issues, however, is learning about them and bringing them to the forefront of policy-making and the environmental justice movement.


Craig, G., Burchardt, T., & Gordon, D. (Eds.). (2008). Social justice and public policy: Seeking fairness in diverse societies. Bristol: Policy Press.

UK air pollution: How bad is it? (2014, April 02). Retrieved November 7, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-26851399

Air Quality Standards. (2008). Retrieved November 14, 2017, from http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/standards.htm

Apply to be a Summer 2018 Sustainability Office Intern

By Sustainability Office on March 1, 2018

The Sustainability Office is hiring three interns for the summer of 2018 to work on a wide range of projects to advance sustainability at Colgate and help bring Colgate to carbon neutrality.

This is an exciting opportunity for Colgate students to get hands-on experience putting sustainability into action.

Summer 2017 intern, Chaveli Miles ’19, stated the following about her experience:

“One very important thing I learned while working as a Sustainability Intern over the summer is that sustainability doesn’t have to occur in the political arena to be impactful. In Hamilton, New York sustainability happens right here. It’s initiated by my peers and supported by my institution. It’s the do-it-yourself sustainability that is designed, implemented and re-designed, constantly improving and working towards a more resilient community and a healthier Earth.”

The position requires up to 40 hours per week, starting the week of May 21st.  Work schedules are flexible and will allow for vacation time, however, a total of 10 weeks of work during the summer is required.

Each sustainability intern will report to the Sustainability Office Program Coordinator and support the activities of Colgate’s Office of Sustainability. Summer 2018 tasks may include, but are not limited to:
-Research and execute novel programming
-Creative Writing and Video Production: Interns may craft creative writing pieces and video blog entries for the Sustainability Office blog
-Social media: Interns will post comments and events to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
-Green Bikes: Interns will help to manage our bike rental program.
-Community Garden: On occasion, Interns will spend time helping in Colgate’s Community Vegetable Garden.
-State of NY Sustainability Conference: Interns may support planning efforts for 2018 State of NY Sustainability Conference being hosted at Colgate.
-Carbon Neutrality: Interns may help to develop programs and communications focused on Colgate’s upcoming carbon neutrality date and investment in carbon offsets.

**To apply, you must submit a resume and cover letter to pgramlich@colgate.edu by March 23rd – more information in the portal**

Apply Now for this Summer’s Colgate Community Garden Internship

By Sustainability Office on February 28, 2018

-Mak Bridge ’20

In the summer of 2017, I was given the opportunity  to work at the Colgate Community Garden and it was hands down one of the best experiences of my Colgate career. Working in the garden is by no means easy, but it is an incredibly rewarding experience.


Summer Garden Interns Camila Loke ’19 and Mak Bridge ’20 at the Colgate Community Garden

Each summer, two interns are hired to maintain the garden with the help of the garden manager, Beth Roy. I worked roughly 40 hours a week, whether that time be spent weeding, planting, or harvesting for our weekly farm stand. I loved being able to see the entire agricultural process from start to finish. Working at the garden is one of the only opportunities students have to get involved with agriculture, and as Colgate is set in such a rural environment, I think it really helps to give the interns a sense of place.

I grew up on a dairy farm, but still managed to learn so much about vegetable farming and organic practices through my job at the garden. As part of the internship, I was also able to take a course facilitated by John Pumilio who is the Director of the Office of Sustainability at Colgate. Through this course I was able to engage in conversations about sustainability at Colgate with faculty members, while also learning how my role in the community garden plays into sustainability  initiatives on campus.

The Garden Interns engage with the local community through the weekly farm stand

The Colgate Community Garden is searching for interns to hire for the upcoming summer season. I cannot emphasize enough how cool it is to learn and observe first-hand where your food is coming from and how it is produced. Furthermore, Beth is such a great resource and was able to teach me so much in such a short span of time, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t have previous experience with farming or gardening. Don’t miss out on this unique and amazing opportunity!

Apply for this year’s summer internship by sending your resume and one page cover letter to garden manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu). The application deadline is March 23. More information.


New Extended Study to Patagonia, Chile Visits Colgate Forest

By Sustainability Office on February 26, 2018

-Revée Needham ‘18

In 2016,  Colgate’s Office for Off-Campus Study, Office of Sustainability, and Patagonia Sur came together to develop a new extended study in Patagonia. Among a large applicant pool excited to participate in this first-time extended study, I was chosen as one of the twelve students to join Biology Associate Professor Eddie Watkins and the Director of Sustainability, John Pumilio, on the trip.

In preparation for the extended study, we took the biology course Field Ecology during the fall semester. In class, we learned about the geography, climate, biology, history and more of South America, Argentina, and Chile, with a focus on the Patagonian region. The class was structured as a “jigsaw,” where we learned from each other and were all given the opportunity to facilitate class discussion, in addition to a variety of class speakers that were brought in. After we finished our coursework we packed up all of our biology field equipment and departed for Buenos Aires, Argentina in late December.

There, we spent four days acquainting ourselves with the southern hemisphere and Argentina’s culture and history. Instead of biking around the vast city, we took motorized bikes to explore the city and examine the urban ecology of the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas. Our hotel, conveniently located across from the local market stalls, overlooked the Recoleta Cemetery. Recoleta Cemetery houses a beautiful collection of Argentinian families’ mausoleums with some still in use today. After trying the delicious Argentine delicacy, empanada, we traveled to our final destination: the Patagonia Sur Valle California property outside of the town of Palena, Chile.

The group after our final hike, overlooking the Valle California properties (Photo courtesy of Austin Sun)


Two visitors, Professor Álvaro Promis and Forestry Manager Matias Rio, joined us in Valle California. Professor Promis studies forest ecosystem succession and Mr. Rio was one of the original people to plant the saplings back in 2011. These two were able to teach us about the native plants and reforestation process, respectively. While reforestation may sound simple on paper on paper, the planting of the trees is quite the arduous process. Due to the remote location, transporting the trees to the plots requires numerous trips by horseback. We got a small taste of the endurance required when we planted 160 trees, nowhere near the 40,000+ saplings in the Colgate Forest. Additionally, we learned a subset of the birds and understory plants and even took quizzes to identify them! While I’m not a self-described “plant nerd,” I did find it exhilarating to be able to look at a plant along the path and correctly say “that’s blechnum.”

The research component of the trip involved assessing the health of the forest plots and then comparing them to native forests. We set up 5 transects, or plots, to measure ranging from an old-growth Nothofagus pumilio forest to the young reforested Nothofagus antarctica saplings.

We measured light transmission, tree height and width, soil nutrients, understory plant identification, and classified insects and birds. To determine which birds were visiting the forests, we conducted the Breeding Bird survey, and stopped for 3 minutes every 100 meters in an area to listen with our ears and look with our eyes to then classify the bird species with our books and the help of John Pumilio.

Students enjoyed researching in Patagonia. (Photo courtesy of Austin Sun)

Classifying the understory plants, by walking along the plot and identifying all the species that we could see, helped us to study for our plants quiz! For the focus of our study, the tree saplings, we measured the basal circumference, the tree height, and the season’s growth. We did this for every single sapling in our plot- quite the tedious process. It was tricky at first to distinguish the reforested saplings from the understory plants, but after a while, I could see Nothofagus antarctica in my sleep. Because of the remote location, our limited equipment, and the young age of the trees, we were unable to conclude much, other than that the forest should continue to be monitored in the future to ensure its continued success. The trees have had to be replanted a few times due to disturbances by local hares and wild pigs.

In addition to the biology research, we made the most of the beautiful facilities by hiking, swimming, fly fishing, rafting, camping, and more. I rode a horse for the first time in my life to trek to the Colgate Forest plots thanks to the help of our gauchos (cowboys). Thankfully, I didn’t fall off! After a day of whitewater rafting, we camped in tents alongside a gorgeous river, where the sunset was a picturesque scene for us to enjoy. The next morning, we witnessed what it took to lasso a sheep and sheer its wool by hand. There, we visited a local woman who spun wool from her sheep into yarn that she uses to knit, crochet, weave products that she then sells at a local market. She also continued the tradition of weaving by teaching and empowering local girls with her knowledge of the trade.

Finally, we attended a fundraiser bingo night in Palena to support the nearby landslide-devastated Chilean town, Santa Lucia with the financial assistance of the COVE. Before the trip departed, we had planned on visiting Santa Lucia, but due to the landslide that became impossible. So, we felt a connection to this town that was recovering from a tragedy and we were grateful to be able to give back. At bingo, the gymnasium was packed with the entire town’s population, and us too, an eclectic group of outsiders excited for the game. The entirety of the bingo prizes were donated by the locals, and ranged from sheep to traditional maté tea and everything in between. That night was a highlight for the entire group, where we came together with the town of Palena for a bigger cause. On our final day in Patagonia, we celebrated our time with a traditional lamb feast. We concluded with a reflection of our favorite memories of the trip, and the people who made it so special, with many us tipping our hats to the chef, Alejandro.

Susanna explaining how she weaves using her loom (Photo courtesy of Austin Sun)

At the conclusion of our visit, we gave a final presentation to some of the Valle California staff and wrote a final report detailing our research and recommendations. Our project was geared towards the biology and ecology of the forest, yet many of us were interested in the economic and social factors too. Thus, future extended studies and trips should broaden their focus to include this equally as important factors. We were grateful to use the luxurious amenities at Patagonia Sur, however, these were largely inaccessible to the local people. The gate to the Patagonia Sur properties was locked and locals were only able to visit the beautiful site if they rented out the dining area for a hefty price. From informal discussions with the staff members, they wished there was a greater involvement of the property with the Chileans. While Patagonia Sur started with great intentions to conserve the land and restore the ecosystem, it would better serve the community as an open and accessible site with sustainable use. In addition, while our Colgate group came to conduct research, the type of work we did could be continued by other scholars from the area. With numerous schools and universities in Chile, it would be prudent to continue the forest research with a local team who are equally as capable. We also proposed that Patagonia Sur combine ecotourism with the research opportunities to develop an environmental education and outreach program. While Colgate University is not responsible for the business model and practices of Patagonia Sur, the class participants hope to encourage the board of Patagonia Sur to consider developing a more participatory business venture that benefits the local community.

On behalf of the entire class, I extend our sincerest gratitude to all those who assisted in the preparation for the trip and the fabulous experience we had at Patagonia Sur. I wish the best of luck to the next extended study group of students.



How did this project come to fruition?

The extended study trip that culminated in January 2018 has its origins in the creation of the Colgate Forest in 2011. After Colgate’s President signed a commitment in 2009 to our carbon neutrality in 2019, the Sustainability Council and the Office of Sustainability were looking for opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with campus operations and through carbon offsets. Then, the pathway was paved for the creation of the Colgate Forest, as one of the carbon offset options.  

Why does Colgate University invest in carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets are projects that sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in an offsite location. Given the size of Colgate-owned properties, the existing infrastructure, and dependence on air travel for faculty research, it would be impossible to achieve carbon neutrality in 2019 without some form of offset. A variety of improvements on campus have been made, totalling a reduction in gross greenhouse gas emissions of 21% since our baseline emissions in 2009. Furthermore, as climate change is a global issue, doing our part to remove carbon from the atmosphere earlier rather than later will benefit everyone. Partnering with Patagonia Sur was attractive due to its innovative approach, opportunities for travel and research (as evidenced by the extended study), and the benefits it provides to the local ecosystem. Creating the Colgate Forest as an offset project involved the planting of native trees in an area that has been devastated by slash and burn agriculture practices and deforestation. Overall, Colgate signed a 15-year agreement with Patagonia Sur in order to sequester 5,000 tons of carbon each year, which reduces our gross emissions by approximately one-third.

The Extended Study participants at one plot of The Colgate Forest (Picture courtesy of Austin Sun)

How is this project verified?

Patagonia Sur, with the assistance of Colgate’s Office of Sustainability, pursued the rigorous certification for the reforestation project. Verified Carbon Standard is an internationally-recognized standard that ensures various programs meet a set of criteria. They look for a variety of attributes including co-benefits (including biodiversity and ecosystem restoration), third party verification, measurement (on an annual basis), additionality (that the trees would not have grown back naturally), leakage (multiple plots of trees to reduce risk of damage), and permeance (whereby the trees are placed under an easement and are not to be cut down).

What else is Colgate University doing to become more sustainable?

After the University committed to carbon neutrality, the Sustainability Council drafted our Climate Action Plan to detail a pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus. Building upon this plan, the Bicentennial Plan aims to integrate sustainability into the campus life and operations. Every year, the Office of Sustainability tracks and publishes an annual report, detailing where our emissions are from on and off campus. A variety of organizations, including Second Nature, the Sierra Club, Princeton Review, and more have recognized Colgate’s efforts. To learn more about Colgate’s initiatives, visit our website.

Water Quality Research in Florence, Italy with Professor Tseng

By Sustainability Office on February 21, 2018

-Noah Campbell ‘18

Over winter break, I spent eight days in Italy with Professor Linda Tseng, collecting water samples from historic fountains in Florence, Siena and Assisi, and visiting with water researchers in the area.

Since the summer of 2017, I have been working with Dr. Tseng to analyze the water and sediment quality in Payne Brook and the Hamilton municipal wastewater treatment plant to better understand the relationship between the wastewater plant and the brook. So when she asked me if I would be interested in accompanying her t o Florence, Italy to take samples of the water there for analysis, I enthusiastically agreed to join her.

On January 3rd, I flew to Florence, traveling through Lisbon and Rome. Upon my arrival, I met up with Dr. Tseng and we began to collect samples, first together, then by myself once I had a good grasp of the city’s geography. The main purpose of the trip was to analyze the quality of the drinkable water connected to many famous fountains across the city. Tourists will often fill their water bottles at these spigots, so we hope to determine if the water quality is acceptable or could use improvement. Over the course of the week I essentially walked the entire length of the city to collect samples, traveling through the traditional historic sites as well as some areas which most tourists would not see.

While in Italy, Dr. Tseng and I both traveled to Siena for a day. We took water samples from the Fonte Gaia, the fountain found in the famous main square of the city, the Piazza del Campo. I also traveled by train to Assisi, birthplace of the Franciscan religious movement, to visit a family friend. In doing so, I was able to take water samples from public fountains in the city, which are frequented by religious pilgrims.

Dr. Tseng and I were also able to meet with her colleagues from the University of Florence. These professors conduct similar research to that which I help with on campus, but there are also unexpected differences between American and European research. For instance, there are contaminants we worry about in the United States which are complete non-issues in Europe, as they are banned by the EU, and vice versa. Meeting with these environmental engineers in Italy was a great learning and networking opportunity for me.

I feel exceptionally lucky to have been able to assist with research in Florence and other cities in Italy. I was able to experience one of the most culturally prominent cities in the world, and learned a great deal about international research. I was also able to conduct many aspects of the research on my own, which gave me insight on how to accomplish work independently, particularly in an unfamiliar country. I hope to eventually become an environmental engineer, and working with Dr. Tseng to analyze fresh water has helped me learn more about the profession. I am grateful to Dr. Tseng, the ENST Department, and Colgate University for this incredible opportunity.

2017 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

By Sustainability Office on February 20, 2018

This year marks Colgate’s ninth consecutive greenhouse gas inventory report. Colgate’s gross campus carbon emissions in Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017) was 13,233 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2). We have reduced our net campus carbon footprint by 8,632 MTeCO2, representing a 51 percent reduction. Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2009, rebranded as Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment, Colgate has implemented many changes on and off campus to achieve these reductions, moving closer toward our goal of carbon neutrality by 2019. 2017 State of Sustainability Report

Pilot “Carry in – Carry out” Program in Alumni Hall

By Sustainability Office on February 9, 2018

The recycling stations in Alumni Hall that students, faculty, and staff are being encouraged to use.

– Delaney Pals ’18

Starting this spring there is a pilot program being implemented in Alumni hall that is attempting to reduce recycling contamination and increase overall recycling rates. In order to achieve these goals, there are no longer small trash and recycling bins in two of the seminar rooms. Instead, students, faculty, and staff have to go to the hallway to the recycling stations to dispose of their items. This is theorized to reduce contamination for many reasons. First, most classrooms only have one small waste bin and one recycling bin. The recycling bin in classrooms is meant for paper recycling, however, the recycling stream ends up being contaminated with many plastic bottles and cups. This does not align with our two-stream recycling program and ends up confusing people on what should be recycled where. When recycling bins are contaminated (for example plastic in a paper bin and vice versa), more often than not, the entire contents of the recycling bin ends up in the trash.

By encouraging students to take their items to the hallway they are then presented with all three options: paper, bottles & cans, and trash. This way items are disposed of properly and recycling rates will hopefully increase. These bins have been placed in the hallways where there is the most visibility and access, areas where students walk right by. This way people will pass at least one grouping of trash/recycling bins in the hallway and they will be able to dispose of or recycle those items there.

This pilot is being tested out in the two seminar rooms in alumni (431 and 432). Once the results from this pilot program come back it can be determined whether or not the program will be expanded to the rest of Alumni and, potentially, the rest of the campus. Let the Office of Sustainability know if you have any experience with these carry in – carry out classrooms and want to let us know how the pilot is going. Any feedback is appreciated as we try to find the best way to increase recycling rates and decrease contamination across campus!

Recyclemania Begins Today!

By Sustainability Office on February 5, 2018

-Revee Needham ‘18

          Once again Colgate University is participating in a competition with other colleges and universities to decrease landfill waste and increase recycling rates. We are competing against Hamilton College in Clinton to see who can improve the most from February 5th to March 9th.  Recycling rates are calculated by dividing the recycled weight by total weight of recycled plus landfill waste. For the past two weeks, the staff at Colgate were measuring the amount of recycling and landfill waste we generated in order to have a baseline to compare to.

          Why is this competition and recycling so important? Landfills across the country release 143 million tons of greenhouse gases (Source). Those greenhouse gases contribute to the many effects of climate change. With the staggering amount of trash we are producing, we are running out of land and sending our garbage overseas, with some of it ending up in the ocean (Source). Furthermore, landfills often pose a health risk to workers and the surrounding community, which historically has been poorer people of color who have less political capital to fight the siting (Source).

          While recycling may seem simple and easy to grasp, the recycling infrastructure varies greatly county-to-county and state-to-state. With Colgate drawing in students from 45+ states and over 100 countries, many students arrive with vastly different experiences and knowledge. Thus, it’s incredibly important to learn about what we have here at Colgate upon arrival.

          Check out this guide for the recycling system in Madison County, NY. The main thing to remember is that we have two-stream recycling: one bin for paper and one bin for plastics/glass/cans. Remember to rinse your recyclable bottles or cans of any food residue first, for health and safety reasons for the workers who sort the recycling. To reduce your own waste, you may first want to look at what’s on your plate. Americans throw away 30% of all food and 50% of all produce (Source). Sorting through or even simply keeping a tally of what you throw away can help you to understand what sorts of waste you are producing, and can then reduce.

          You can help make Recyclemania the best one yet! The Sustainability Office is hosting workshops about recycling for interested students, faculty, or staff and their respective organization, office, or club. Fill out this form to get started.