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Adam Zaharoni’s ’21 Visits Common Thread

By Sustainability Office on June 21, 2018

 

-Adam Zaharoni ’21

Food is a fundamental part of human life both biologically and socially.  Yet, despite its importance, many people are unaware of where their food really comes from. Last week, Colgate’s Community Garden interns and I got the chance to experience the work that goes into sustainable food production first hand at the local Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA), Common Thread.

Located only a few miles from Colgate, Common Thread’s mission “is to produce healthy food for our local community using sustainable growing methods, provide opportunities for people to connect with the land and their community, and contribute to larger efforts towards a just and sustainable food system”. So what exactly is a CSA?  A CSA creates a direct and strong bond between consumers and farmers, with members of the community becoming shareholders of the farm, thus funding it in exchange for weekly shares of the fresh produce. This unique relationship is designed to help build a stronger community and allows citizens to take direct responsibility for their local agriculture.

But what is it like to actually work on a farm? What goes into using these sustainable growing practices?  While I only worked there for a brief five hours last Friday, I can tell you confidently that it is a lot more than expected. Along with three other workers, I spent my time at Common Thread weeding a patch of cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. It took us five hours to finish weeding just these three plants, a mere fraction of the much larger fields of produce in Common Thread’s two plots. I can only imagine how much time and effort go into weeding the entirety of their land, not to mention the planting, harvesting, upkeep, and watering of the plants as well.   Not to mention that the work is not easy, but intensive and strenuous.

At the end of the morning as we were leaving, we stopped by the strawberry plants, and picked some straight from the plant to eat. Tasting those strawberries showed me that everything we had been doing and that Common Thread and farmers around the world do on a daily basis is worth it.  Fresh produce grown in sustainable ways tastes delicious and is worth all of the hard work that goes into growing it. Next time you are eating, try to remember that the food you have came from somewhere, maybe a farm like Common Thread, and the amount of effort that went into that food ending up on your plate.  And if you ever want to see the process for yourself go check out your local farm or visit Colgate’s very own Community Garden!

 


The 2018 Oak Awards

By Sustainability Office on May 3, 2018

– Cecilia Kane ’20

At the Green Summit on April 12, three individuals were recognized with Oak Awards for their contributions to sustainability in the Colgate community.

Sergei Domashenko, Coordinator of Government Documents, Maps, and Microforms and Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies, received the staff Oak Award for his efforts at Case-Geyer Library. A two-year member of the Sustainability Council, Domashenko helped form the Library Sustainability Group, which focuses on waste reduction, outreach, marketing, literacy, and education. While significant campus programming has been geared toward students, Domashenko recognized the need for staff education and literacy surrounding sustainability. One of the Library Sustainability Group’s most notable achievements has been its zero-waste all-staff meeting, which was successful due to staff members bringing their own beverage containers and having both recycling and compost bins available for any potential waste. Domashenko has also expressed his hope that the Library Sustainability Group might serve as a precedent for other buildings and departments on campus.

Chris Henke, Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, was awarded the faculty Oak Award for his work with the local government in the Village of Hamilton. As the Faculty Director of the Upstate Institute, he works to engage the Colgate and Hamilton communities in a reciprocal transfer of knowledge. In this position, he has helped to create the Hamilton Climate Preparedness Working Group, demonstrating the interconnectedness of local sustainability issues. Henke also teaches ENST 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues, a project-based, interdisciplinary course that examines current environmental issues in the context of community-based learning. Many students’ projects ultimately reflect the philosophy of community interconnectedness that Henke himself has adopted.

Finally, Christina Weiler ’21 was presented the student Oak Award for her initiative with UCan, which she founded through the Thought into Action (TIA) entrepreneurial incubator. UCan is a beverage container recycling program that donates its proceeds to hunger and homeless outreach organizations in Utica. By integrating her concern for social justice into a recycling program, Weiler demonstrates how sustainability is an integrative discipline that reaches beyond the natural environment. In this way, UCan shows the value of waste management and aims both to help the environment and to spread awareness of social justice. Weiler hopes to extend UCan to other college campuses in the hope of reaching as many students and communities as possible. Weiler also serves as a first-year Sustainability Representative for the Ciccone Commons.

Congratulations to our Oak Award recipients, and thank you to those who attended the Green Summit!


Ask Me What’s in My Bag

By Sustainability Office on May 2, 2018

– Miranda Gilgore ‘18 and Revee Needham ‘18

With an increase in the amount of waste that Colgate has sent to the Madison County landfill (see below) in the past few years, two students wanted to raise awareness issue of waste. Miranda and Revee are interns at the Office of Sustainability who have been collaborating to tackle waste issues on campus. Together they have sorted trash for a waste audit and Miranda attended the PLAN Zero Waste Conference. Inspired by students at NYU and Tufts for their zero waste weeks, recruited 22 students and staff members to participate in Colgate’s first “Carry Your Trash” week. Participants were given a clear plastic bag to display their trash for the week of April 2nd-9th and the chance to win stainless steel straws and bamboo utensils.

We decided to make the week “Carry Your Trash” and not “Zero-Waste” because we recognized there were some privileged ideas surrounding zero waste. While it’s aspirational, and for some people, completely possible to keep all your trash for a year in a mason jar, it’s not always feasible. Going zero waste is a process that requires initial investments in reusable items and the time to create many other items. So, we decided to not have a zero waste week, but instead, encourage participants to live their lives as normally as possible in an effort to help them realize their role in waste production.

Due to health concerns, we didn’t recommend placing any food waste items in the bag and encouraged noting when this waste was produced whenever possible. Traditionally, a zero waste challenge involves composting any food or organic waste, but we were unable to do this.

Colgate. Colgate does have a compost pile at the Community Garden, but it is unmanaged during the winter.For support and ideas, we created a Groupme group with the the participants. Largely, we encouraged participants to do their best, as it wasn’t a competition, and to approach the week as “challenge by choice.”

From Revee’s perspective: I was inspired by watching numerous zero waste videos and by making some changes in my life before the week began. While I recognized the inherent privilege associated with living a zero waste lifestyle, I was confident that I could implement some big changes in my life. During the week, I modified my behavior to avoid generating trash, whether that was by not using a paper coffee filter, bringing my own mug to grab coffee, or making my own iced tea. For the trash that I did generate, I noted instances where that waste could have been avoided, such as by making my own almond milk, buying reusable cotton rounds, or making my own spice mix. Whenever I mention zero waste to someone there is a huge misconception that in order to use the term you need to be 100% zero waste. While that is obviously the goal, I’ve learned that it’s actually more of a zero waste journey, with incremental changes over a long period of time. This has been a main topic of conversation in the Zero Waste Facebook groups that I joined for support and new ideas. Another goal I had personally, and maybe for a future rendition of the week, is to keep track of how much plastic I was generating. While it is recyclable, I’m aware of the negative health impacts by ingesting plastic particles, the impact on plastic litter in the ocean, and its dependence on fossil fuels. Many Zero Waste blogs advocate for avoiding plastic as much as possible because it is often downgraded when recycled, whereas glass and aluminium are much more easily recycled.

From Miranda’s perspective: This undertaking has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I was so excited to finally be doing it! Though one of the primary goals of the project was to raise personal awareness of what trash each of us produced in a typical week, I was amazed and inspired by all of the positive feedback I received from so many people. I generally try to be quite mindful of the waste I produce, but I noticed that I was hypersensitive to the trash I was producing during the week and modified my behavior slightly to minimize this as much as possible. Although this may make the week artificial to some degree, being pushed to that awareness means that I discovered zero-waste solutions that I may not have otherwise. I am also cognizant of the fact that I was not always putting trash associated with products I was using in my bag. In some cases, mostly food, I didn’t empty the package and therefore still needed  the packaging. In other cases, such as school supplies, clothing, etc., I had thrown away the packaging upon purchasing the product before the week started. In other instances, like catered or ordered food, the packaging and other associated trash was removed before the product even got to me. Despite all this, I still think Carry Your Trash Week was a worthy project and definitely a success worth repeating! See all of the landfill waste that I generated for the week below.

From participants’ perspectives: Maria Dascalu ‘18 noted that she uses paper towels quite a bit, coming to the solution that she could start bringing a towel up the hill to dry her hands. Ana Tobio ‘18 found that her biggest contributor was tea bags and their packaging, realizing she could reduce waste with loose leaf tea. We also recognized that the participants were not a representative sample of the Colgate community, and wondered how much more trash others produce on a daily basis. Angelica Greco ‘18 pointed out that brown bag lectures produce large amounts of waste, which could be avoided with people bringing their own plates and utensils, or by having the caterer provide reusable dishware.

One of the biggest problems in tackling waste is the lack of agency in limiting the disposal of waste. Once it’s placed in the bin, it seemingly disappears and is out of sight and out of mind. This week caused participants to confront the trash they produce by carrying it around for others to see. Overall, it was a good opportunity to raise awareness for not only the participants but for everyone else who stopped to ask: “What’s in your bag?


Mathematical Models in Environmental Policy

By Sustainability Office on May 1, 2018

– Dana Chan ’19

Ever wondered what math can do for sustainability? The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) held its annual Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM) from February 8-12, 2018 at Colgate University. At the heart of this competition is the construction of a mathematical model that can help predict the outcomes of real-life problems and aid in the search for solutions. One team from Colgate University’s Mathematics Department – composed of Ruoyu (Tony) Guo, Asad Jamil, and Van Tran – chose to create a model that predicts a reliable timeline for a national switch from diesel to electric vehicles. An essential part of their model is tracking the amount of financial resources and time required to build the necessary facilities around the country to make the all-electric vehicle switch possible.

Tony Guo, one of the architects of the model, commented that they were excited to choose an issue that focuses on sustainability because of its relevance to many countries in the world today. Tony highlighted the importance of implementing environmental solutions in developing countries. “Personally, I think in our environmental conditions right now going all-electric is more important for less developed countries, but these countries have limited funds to make it possible. I think in addition to government subsidies, we need more people contributing to this cause and making investments for it to be realistic.”

According to the team’s model for a developed country, using Ireland as an example, an all-electric vehicle switch could come as early as 2050 with the most ideal conditions. However, this will not only cost the Irish government a fortune, but will also be hindered by the lack of existing infrastructure; hence, using more realistic assumptions pushes the date further into the future. The team strived to create a model that can be generalized to various economic states of different countries. In testing their model on a developing country, like Indonesia, the team found the effort for an all-electric vehicle switch much more challenging but still feasible with the right amount of support from government and private entities. The team also took into consideration the viewpoints of the people who live in these countries, assuming that people would be willing to make the switch, though they would be more comfortable if the switch occurred at a slower pace.

The ICM is an example of how interdisciplinary efforts can help push sustainability initiatives forward. Tony comments, “Math gives you a more precise and quantitative way to predict what will happen in the future, and it is reliable, scientific and easy to communicate. It is a tool in all aspects of initiating, planning and carrying out initiatives – it’s actually more useful than people think.”


From Sap to Syrup: Maple Syrup in Upstate New York

By Sustainability Office on April 30, 2018

– Chaveli Miles ’19

February through April is the sweetest time of the year. When temperatures finally rise above freezing during the day, sugaring season begins! At Colgate, two community-based projects on local maple syrup production have been conducted as part of the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies course, ENST 390.

The first project was conducted in 2014 in Professor Galusky’s ENST 390 course. Andrew Mazen ‘15, Sarah DeFalco ‘15, and Drew Myers ‘15 examined the history and current production of maple syrup in Madison County, New York. They found maple syrup production fostered a sense of community and tradition as current sugar makers represented a lineage of sugarmakers spanning several generations. Using this information, they described various considerations for maintaining and improving future maple syrup production in the county.  

This semester, in Professor Helfant’s ENST 390 course, Quinn Kim’ 19, Carol Rodriguez ’18 and Will Besen ’19 are assessing the practicality of establishing a maple syrup operation on Colgate’s campus. This may be a possibility in the future as central New York has always been a main producer of maple syrup. New England, Michigan, and parts of Canada also produce maple syrup.

The sugaring season can last about 4 to 6 weeks depending on the weather. Consistent temperatures that fluctuate between above freezing during the day to below freezing at night are necessary to build up pressure within the trees, causing the sap to flow from carefully drilled holes in the tree. A well managed sugar maple forest can be used to sustainably produce maple syrup for over 100 years.

When the sap is first collected, it only contains about 2% sugar. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. Centuries ago, sap was collected and boiled until the final product was granulated maple sugar. This is why we say “sugaring season.” When granulated sugar from the sugar cane plant became more widely available, sugar makers started boiling their sap less to create a sweet, amber syrup.

Could Colgate become a little hub for maple syrup production? Until then, New York maple syrup is available at the Hamilton Farmers Market, Hamilton Whole Foods, Parry’s, and even Price Chopper. Buying locally produced syrup is an easy, and delicious, way to support local businesses and welcome spring in the Northeast.   


Sustainability Hosts Twitter Q&A

By Sustainability Office on April 16, 2018

The Office of Sustainability hosted a question and answer session on the Colgate University Twitter account Saturday, April 14. See the full thread below, and follow Colgate and the Office of Sustainability on Twitter.

Read more


The Green Summit and Oak Awards

By Sustainability Office on April 11, 2018

–Dana Monz ’18

Each year, the Office of Sustainability hosts the 13 Days of Green. This Colgate tradition marks the thirteen days leading up to Earth Day, highlighting local and global sustainability challenges and initiatives, while demonstrating ways in which individuals can create change. Notably, two events that feature students, faculty, and staff who have played a substantial role in sustainability and addressing global climate change on campus are coming up this week on Thursday, April 12th in Golden Auditorium.

For this year’s Green Summit, we are inviting the Colgate community from a variety of disciplines to sit on a student-organized panel and share their perspectives on the current and future implications of climate change. The panel will be moderated by Professor Catherine Cardelús, an associate professor of biology and environmental studies. The mission for the Green Summit is as follows:

The Green Summit aims to highlight the relationship between climate change and a diverse group of disciplines across campus, beyond the traditional environmental science perspective, to equip the Colgate Community to address the multifaceted implications of climate change. In doing so we will:

      Highlight the importance of Colgate’s carbon neutrality commitment

      Mobilize multiple stakeholders within the Colgate community

      Demonstrate how everyone fits into the fight against climate change

This year’s Green Summit aims to help people understand that regardless of who they are or where they are on campus, we are all connected to the impacts of climate change. The panel will consist of two students and two faculty members. The first panel member is Kimberly Duncan, a senior Environmental Studies and Studio Art double major.  She has increasingly incorporated environmental activist themes in her artwork while at Colgate and has been an Intern for the Office of Sustainability since the summer of 2015. The second panelist is Christopher Mather, a Peace and Conflict Studies major and a Political Science minor. Chris is also the former president of the Students for Environmental Action club here on campus. The third panelist is Professor Chandra Russo, an assistant professor of Sociology, who focuses on social movements and environmental justice in relation to the issue of climate change. Lastly, Professor Richard Klotz, an assistant professor of Economics, whose work focuses on greenhouse gas emissions and climate policy.  Our goal in selecting these panelists is that they will be able to help you all, the Colgate Community, address the multifaceted nature of climate change and recognize how it will impact people from all disciplines and walks of life.

To wrap up the Green Summit, the Office of Sustainability will present The Oak Awards, celebrating those who have made a significant contribution towards sustainability efforts at Colgate. The categories for the awards are: group of the year, staff member of the year, faculty member of the year, and student of the year.

The Oak Award recipients of 2017.

A complete list of all of the 13 Days of Green events can be found on the Colgate Calendar and in the Colgate Mobile App. Please make an attempt to get involved and help promote sustainability efforts around campus by developing a better understanding of how climate change will impact you.


Sustainability Interns Conduct Waste Audit

By Sustainability Office on April 10, 2018

–Miranda Gilgore ‘18

On Sunday March 25, Office of Sustainability interns conducted the 4th waste audit of the year in Colgate’s first-year and sophomore residential buildings. The purpose of the waste audits has been to determine the effectiveness of various types of recycling bins on increasing recycling and reducing contamination in the recycling stream. This work was motivated by Colgate’s low recycling rate of 15% and the fact that the amount of material that Colgate sent to the Madison County landfill was higher last year than any of the 8 preceding years.

Interns sort trash and recyclables for the waste audit.

The waste audits proved to be very successful, if a little smelly, showing that the Bryan Complex, which has Landmark-style recycling and trash bins has a much higher recycling rate than East Hall, which does not have the Landmark bins. The average recycling rate across the waste audits in the Bryan Complex was 57.78% while in East Hall the rate was only 22.21%.

Each of the four waste audits was conducted on a Sunday morning and afternoon. The dates were October 29th, December 3rd, February 25th, and March 25th. Bags of landfill waste and recycling were collected from all of the hallways and common rooms of the buildings. Each bag was labeled and weighed. Next, non-recyclable items were removed from paper and bottles & cans recycling bags. Common items included coffee and smoothie cups, straws, chip bags, and liquids. The presence of these items in the recycling stream can cause the entire bag of recyclables to be thrown into the landfill, so addressing contamination is an educational and structural priority. 

We also noted and recorded recyclables that were found in the landfill waste bags. Common recyclables in these bags included coffee sleeves, cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and plastic bottles, and paper. Although in general it is better to throw something out if you are unsure if it is recyclable, we believe that education and structural changes regarding recycling on campus can reduce the presence of recyclables sent to the landfill and increase the recycling rate.

The March 25th waste audit marked the last one of this academic year but the waste and recycling team of interns is working hard to compile a full report of the audits and recommend next steps for the university. Based on the initial results, it seems as though the Landmark bins are making a significant difference on the recycling rate and that additional Landmark bins, or similar bins, should be purchased and distributed across campus.

The waste audits helped us to understand some of the sticking points and challenges of recycling on campus, while also providing  an opportunity to examine how to improve the recycling rate. If you would like to become an ‘expert Colgate recycler’ you can check out the guide below or talk to anyone in the Office of Sustainability!


Earth Day on the Horizon: 13 Days of Green

By Sustainability Office on March 29, 2018

–Chloe Matonis ’18

In the 1900s, the world witnessed the rise of unknown diseases due to pesticides and other harmful pollutants. Fed up with corporations and the government’s apathy towards the growing environmental degradation, millions of people took to the streets in 1970 to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development (earthday.org). In response to the growing global ecological awareness, the U.S. Congress and President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and robust environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. April 22nd, 1970, also marked the first official Earth Day.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, with more than 1 billion people in 192 countries celebrating worldwide (earthday.org). It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Colgate University recognizes Earth Day in its own, unique way with the 13 Days of Green.

Every year, the Office of Sustainability hosts the 13 Days of Green. It is 13 days dedicated to the celebration, education, and outreach of sustainability, all leading up to Earth Day. The 13 Days of Green include a wide range of events open to all students, faculty, and members of the local Hamilton community. Some 13 Days of Green events to mark on your calendars include:

  • The 13 Days of Green will begin with the Kickoff Festival, taking place on the academic quad on Tuesday April 10th. There will be food, live music, games, and earthy activities co-sponsored by Sidekicks.

 

  • Thursday April 12th in Golden Auditorium is the GreenSummit. The Green Summit aims to highlight the relationship between climate change and a diverse group of disciplines across campus, beyond the traditional environmental science perspective, to equip the Colgate Community to address the multifaceted implications of climate change. The summit will: highlight the importance of Colgate’s carbon neutrality commitment, mobilize multiple stakeholders, and explain how you fit into the fight against climate change.

 

  • An ENST Brown Bag on Friday April 13th. Speaker Isla Globus-Harris will give a lecture on “Free-riding in Energy Efficiency Subsidy Programs.”

 

  • April 15th is the Sustainable Study Break in the Batza room in Case. This event is hosted by the first-year sustainability representatives. Participants will be encouraged to make their own chipwiches, calculate their carbon footprints, and contribute to the climate ribbon project.

 

  • The “Pop-up Thrift Shop” is an event where you can donate your old clothes and come find new treasures. Items available will include jewelry, shoes, professional clothes, costumes, and more! Drop off your old clothes in the ENST Resource Room or in the marked bins in your residence hall between April 4 -18, then stop by the HOP between 12 and 4 pm on April 20th to get new clothes! All remaining items will be donated to the LGBT Initiatives Closet or local charities.

 

  • The Locavore Dinner will take place on Saturday, April 21st. Co-sponsored by Green Thumbs, we are hosting a locavore dinner where we buy local food from the farmer’s market and other farm stands, cook various recipes together, and then enjoy the feast.

 

The last day of 13 Days of Green is the Earth Day Afternoon of Service. On Sunday April 22. The Office of Sustainability will host an afternoon of service in celebration of Earth Day by organizing several exciting volunteer projects oriented around sustainability and ecological awareness. Students will get to know the greater Hamilton area through hands-on engagement with the community.  A snack and transportation will be provided.

A complete list of 13 Days of Green events can be found on the Colgate Calendar and in the Colgate Mobile App. Keep your eyes open for a variety of fun and interesting ways to make a positive impact!

Special thanks to 13 Days of Green Co-sponsors, including the Sustainability Council (through the Sustainability Fund), Sidekicks, Students for Environmental Action, Green Thumbs, Beekeeping Club and the Environmental Studies Program.


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.

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