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Recycling and Reusing at Colgate: Frequently Asked Questions

By Sustainability Office on June 23, 2015

by John Pumilio, director of sustainability

I frequently receive calls or emails from concerned individuals asking how to properly recycle or dispose of certain items that are either broken or no longer needed.  Items could be anything from office supplies, furniture, microwaves, coffee pots, computers, monitors, small electronic devices, refrigerators, and almost anything else you can think of that is not part of our normal recycling program or too big to fit in one of our trash bins.  This post will hopefully offer some guidance and give you more direction.

Let’s start with our basic campus recycling program.  Colgate has two stream recycling which means that we need to separate recyclable materials into two different bins:

  1. Paper Recycling.  One bin is for paper and all paper products.  These blue bins are usually identified by having a lid with a slit that facilitates paper recycling.  See image below (bin on left).  This bin is for print and copier paper, newspaper, notebook paper, envelopes, magazines, and catalogs. Pizza boxes, cereal boxes, corrugated cardboard, paper bags, and dry food boxes can also be recycled with paper.
  2. Bottle and Can Recycling.  The other bin is for bottles and cans that are made of plastic, glass, or metal.  These blue bins are usually identified by having a lid with two round holes that facilitates the recycling of bottles and cans.  See image below (bin on right). This bin is for all plastics #1-7, all glass bottles and metal cans, plastic milk and water jugs, yogurt containers, laundry soap and detergent bottles, plastic cups, and plastic grocery bags.

Paper and bottle/can recycling bins are located in every building on campus.  Please take a moment to find and place your recyclables in the proper bin on campus.  Check out Colgate’s Recycling Guide for more detailed information.

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Slim Jim recycling containers frequently found around campus.

Okay, that was the easy part.  The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) should guide you on how to properly dispose of other types of items.

Q: What do I do with large electronic devices such as Colgate-owned television sets, computers, monitors, and printers?
A: Call the ITS helpline (x7111).  They will assist you in the proper recycling of your Colgate-owned electronics.

Q: What do I do with small electronic devices such as old cell phones, batteries, compact discs, digital cameras, iPods, cables and cords, printer cartridges, calculators, and other small electronic devices?
A: Bring these items to the second floor of the Coop (in the elevator alcove) or to any one of our 16 locations around campus (download eWaste map here) where they will be recycled safely and conveniently.  Please lend a helping hand and tape both ends of all batteries before placing them in a battery recycling bin.  Members of the Sustainability Office will come around every few weeks to empty the electronic waste bins in your area.  If a bin becomes full and needs more immediate attention, please call x6360 or email us at sustainability@colgate.edu.

Q: Where does our eWaste go?
A: Large electronic devices that are still functional will be reused.  Small electronics are transported to RCR&R in Rochester, NY for proper recycling.  Click here to find out more.

Q: Where can I recycle my personally-owned eWaste?
A: As a Hamilton resident, you can take your electronic waste to the transfer station in Poolville (Cranston Road). They are open from 7:10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will punch your card for each item (punch cards cost $13.50 and contain 5 punches).  As a Madison County resident, you can also take your eWaste free of charge to the Madison-Cortland ARC at 327 Farrier Avenue and Gary’s Auto Parts at 651 Fitch Street, both in Oneida.

Q: What do I do with my spent printer cartridges?
A: Fortunately, W.B. Mason will conveniently collect your old printer cartridges for recycling.  Simply hand it to the W.B. Mason representative the next time they make a delivery to your office area.  A second option is to place the cartridge in one of our eWaste bins located around campus.

Q: I have an item (such as a microwave, refrigerator, lab equipment, furniture, shelving, filing cabinet, etc.) that is no longer needed or wanted.  What do I do with these items?
A: First ask yourself if the item is still useable.  If you think the item still has value and can be reused, then call Joanne Vanderwood in Surplus and Salvage (ext. 7475).  She will oversee the collection of your items for resale and reuse.  If your item is broken or is not salvageable, then you must contact B&G to put in a work order for pickup.  B&G will collect your item(s) for proper disposal.

Q: I have extra office supplies that I no longer need or want.  What can I do with them?
A: Check out our FREE Office Swap spreadsheet.  If you have extra paper clips, folders, lamps, and other items that you think other people at Colgate might need, post it on the site.  Likewise, if you are looking for common items, put in a request before spending money on new items.

Q: What do I do with scrap metal that is no longer needed?
A: Call B&G and put in a work order.  They will come pick it up for recycling!

Q: Do you have links to other resources that explain how to properly recycle at Colgate or at home?
A: Yes!  Check out these additional resources:

Colgate’s Recycling Guide and website
Madison County Solid Waste Department
NYS Electronic Waste Recycling
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) – recycling and composting

Q: I still have an item or questions about recycling, what should I do?
A: Call (x6487) or email (jpumilio@colgate.edu) Colgate’s Director of Sustainability.  I will be glad to help.


Update on Sodexo Sustainability

By Sustainability Office on April 15, 2015

083Since the hire of Food Service Manager of Sustainability Programs at Colgate, Deb Hanson, enhancing the sustainability of foods at dining locations on campus has been in full swing. Most recently, the sustainability team has developed a database of all the local foods Sodexo is currently purchasing and looking for ways and partnerships to increase the percentage of local foods we are buying. Hanson has been regularly speaking with Colgate’s food suppliers to keep them updated on our sustainability goals and discover new opportunities for local and sustainable foods. Hanson and sustainability intern, Emily Adams, took a trip to Purdy & Sons foods in Sherburne, NY to meet with suppliers Dan and Vicki Purdy to discuss our sustainability goals, and were given a tour of their meat processing facility. The Purdys’ shared their process of sourcing local meats, produce, and dairy products and their own personal goals of supporting the local economy. Buying locally requires advanced planning and commitments, as unlike buying from large global corporations, food cannot just be ordered and expected to magically show up at Frank’s doors within a few days. Rather, the Purdys have to have an idea of how much product they will require over the year and inform local farmers to raise certain numbers of cattle or acres of corn, for example, they should be growing. The Purdy’s goal is to work with small local farmers and link them with universities and businesses, as these institutions, such as Sodexo at Colgate, cannot buy directly from local producers without having a third party certify them. The Purdy’s next gave the Sodexo sustainability team a tour of the meat facility, where we were able to see workers carefully hand-rolling sausages and full carcasses of local meat hanging in the coolers waiting to be transformed into ground beef for Colgate’s local burgers. Continuously working with local suppliers and maintaining close relationships with them is something the Sodexo sustainability team believes is important as we continue to expand our local food purchasing.

Recently, the Colgate Sodexo team also signed the Taste NY Pledge which is an agreement to increase the use of New York grown and produced products in our dining locations to at least 10% of total procurement. This pledge also states an agreement to educate and maintain staff’s knowledge about the quality, importance and impact of New York’s locally grown and produced products, to highlight seasonal ingredients, and to note whenever possible, the names of the farms or local companies products are coming from. Sodexo is working to improve transparency of our local items by updating a board of local items in Frank daily, introducing item identifiers in the food lines, and having farmer profiles featured on the dining hall tablets. Frank is also planning for a Local Food Showcase “Get Local New York” where some local suppliers will feature their products and speak with students about how they produce their food. Frank is also planning a coffee sampling event in order to choose a new fair trade sustainable coffee to be implemented across dining locations. Sodexo is also preparing for Earth Day by joining Colgate’s 13 Days of Green. Frank will be preparing a special all-local meal for Earth Day, will be requesting students to make commitments to being more environmentally friendly through the “I Commit” campaign, and will be having another Weigh-the-Waste event to demonstrate the amount of food wasted daily in the dining hall


Get ready for the 13 Days of Green!

By Sustainability Office on March 25, 2015

By Ben Schick ’17

As March comes to a close and Hamilton begins to thaw out of the frozen tundra that has engulfed campus for four months, Colgate prepares for the coming of its annual 13 Days of Green.  13 Days of Green is a campus wide event lasting from April 10-April 22 that aims at raising environmental awareness on campus.  The event offers educational programming, events, and competitions that engage students in sustainability on campus and give them the tools necessary to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

This year’s 13 Days of Green consists of a variety of events that highlight different ways organizations around campus are working to make Colgate more sustainable. The full schedule for the 13 Days of Green will be available on the Colgate mobile app starting next week. However, here are some events to look out for:

  • Ongoing:  Window sticker design competition.  Colgate wastes large amounts of heat every winter due to open windows in residence halls.  Students can help Colgate save heat and energy by designing a window sticker reminding students to keep their windows shut during the winter.  The artist of the winning design will win a gift card to a restaurant in downtown Hamilton.
  • April 11:  Head down to the Community Garden at 1pm to get a tour of the garden and learn about sustainable gardening practices.  Food from Hamilton Whole Foods will be provided.
  • April 14:  Sustainable and local food brownbag.  Led by Environmental Studies Professor April Baptiste and Director of Sustainability John Pumilio, this brown bag will look at Colgate’s initiatives to incorporate sustainably grown and local foods into our dining halls.  We will also explore the emerging local food market network in Hamilton, NY.
  • April 16:  Vegetarian dietician appointments.  Led by the Shaw Wellness center, students have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with a vegetarian dietician to learn how to adopt a nutritious and balanced plant-based diet.  Sign up for a one hour slot from 4-8pm by emailing rhangley@colgate.edu.
  • April 18:  Tree planting with COVE Sidekicks from 1-3pm.  Sidekicks will be celebrating Earth Day by planting saplings at the top of the old ski hill.  There will also be tours of the Darwin Thinking Path and environmentally friendly snacks. All are invited!
  • April 22 (Earth Day):  The 13 Days of Green culminates with the Oak Awards.  Formerly known as the Green Awards, the “Oakies” recognize individuals and groups on campus that have made a positive impact on Colgate’s campus through sustainability-related efforts.  Come join us for the award ceremony and free dinner from Hamilton Whole Foods.  In addition, if you wish to nominate an individual or group for an Oakie, please fill out this form:https://docs.google.com/a/colgate.edu/forms/d/1zaYwaqVmhvylk0CEKCvKMbAqOxiQyHUukiaEI6fzWy0/viewform.

While the 13 Days of Green is a fantastic event that engages students in sustainable living at Colgate, it is by no means the only opportunity students have to get involved in sustainability on campus.  There are countless ways students can immerse themselves in sustainability on campus.  The events, workshops and competitions of the 13 Days of Green is meant to serve as a starting point for students on their road to living a sustainable life now and in the future.  For more information, on how you can get involved beyond the 13 Days, visit colgate.edu/green.


Say Goodbye to Styrofoam

By Sustainability Office on March 17, 2015

By Sara Reese ’16

As members of the Hamilton community, we’ve probably all ordered Dunkin Donuts coffee, thinking nothing of the Styrofoam cup that’s handed to us through the drive-thru window.  And we’ve all probably been to a campus event and been served take-out food on Styrofoam plates.  While the everyday consumer might not consider the type of tableware or cup that they use, the fact is, Styrofoam is harmful to the environment and also our health.  As members of a renowned liberal arts university with one of the most aggressive carbon neutrality dates in higher education, the sustainability of our purchases should always be considered.

Styrofoam is identified as the fifth largest contributor to waste in the environment – occupying an estimated 30% in our nation’s landfills.  Styrofoam is also non-biodegradable, meaning that it will persist in that landfill forever.  An important compound in Styrofoam is Styrene, which was identified as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) several decades ago.  Additional chemicals found in Styrofoam have been known to leach into food and beverages as it is heated up in the Styrofoam tableware or cup, leading to human ingestion of these chemicals.  According to EPA studies, Styrene is now found in 100 percent of the fat tissues sampled from every U.S. citizen (including children).  Clearly, Styrofoam has negative impacts on our environment and our bodies.

On March 10th, the Colgate University Student Government Association unanimously passed both a resolution and a bill against Styrofoam.  The bill, acting as a change to bylaws pertaining to the Budget Allocation Committee, prohibits BAC-funded student groups from using BAC-funding to purchase Styrofoam.  That means when student groups host events and order pizza and drinks for pickup or delivery, there has to be explicit notice given to the vendor that Styrofoam cups or plates should not be provided.  The resolution informs all Colgate departments and offices that the student body dissuades the use of Styrofoam and suggests action to reduce Styrofoam purchasing.

This bill and resolution builds momentum towards the ultimate action that should be taken – a campus-wide Styrofoam ban and ban within the town of Hamilton itself.  With recyclable and biodegradable options being offered at comparable prices, Styrofoam should not be allowed.  This wouldn’t be an unprecedented action – many cities, counties, and states are already banning Styrofoam, including New York City.  There are also many colleges and universities that have banned Styrofoam on campus.

With Styrofoam now banned from BAC-funded events, I encourage all of us – students, staff, and faculty – to invest in reusable cups and mugs.  Instead of using disposable containers, consider purchasing a reusable container or thermos that can be used over and over.  Making more conscious purchasing decisions can protect our environment and our health.  Let’s say goodbye to Styrofoam.


A Drawback of Less Paper Waste at Colgate

By Sustainability Office on March 16, 2015

Over the past few years, Colgate has made a lot of progress in advancing sustainability on campus.  We have reduced our campus carbon footprint by 34 percent while achieving over $500,000 per year in avoided spending on energy, water, and other precious resources.  Perhaps the most astonishing progress has been in our use of printer and copier paper on campus.  In 2009, the Colgate community collectively purchased over 12.3 million sheets of paper.  If stack up, that would have been taller than three Empire State Buildings in height.

Colgate employees purchased over 12.3 million sheets of paper in 2009.

Colgate employees purchased over 12.3 million sheets of paper in 2009.

 

Last year, Colgate purchased less than 3.6 million sheets of paper.  That’s a 71 percent reduction in paper use or a savings of 8.7 million sheets of paper.  That’s the approximate equivalent of 550 trees saved per year!

 

Colgate employees purchased less than 3.6 million sheets of paper in 2014.  That's a 71% reduction compared to 2009.

Colgate employees purchased less than 3.6 million sheets of paper in 2014. That’s a 71% reduction compared to 2009.

What has led to this reduction in paper consumption?  Certainly, digital technologies and an increased awareness of printing only when necessary have contributed.  We also set campus printers to double-sided printing a few years back and installed print-release stations that eliminates most accidental or otherwise unclaimed print jobs.

A few years ago, a few of our more environmentally and cost-conscious employees began collecting perfectly good “scrap” paper from other departments.  Instead of purchasing new paper, they would simply “recycle” this used paper with printing on only one side by running it through their own printers.  According to Roxanne Benson, who has been working in Outdoor Education for the past 8 years, she has never purchased new printer paper.  She has always been able to collect old paper from other departments.  Recently, however, Roxanne’s stockpile of paper has been running low.  When she contacted all her “usual suspects” for a new supply, she was dismayed to discover they had none to spare.  They thought Roxanne’s practice of reusing paper was such a good one that they began doing the same.  While this best practice may be good for Colgate and for our environment, it means hard times for our more sustainably-minded community members.  Chin up, Roxanne, and thank you for helping to advance sustainability at Colgate!


Colgate Community Garden Plot Program Launches

By Sustainability Office on March 13, 2015

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The Colgate Community Garden is now accepting applications for its 2015 Garden Plot Program. This is an exciting opportunity for individuals in the community to be able to tend their own garden plot within the Colgate Community Garden. The garden team hopes for the Colgate Community Garden to become a place where community members can come together to enjoy learning about gardening and sustainable living.

Each of the garden plots offered are approximately 4 ft. W x 8 ft. L x 10 in. H.  Plots are constructed using rot-resistant, untreated lumber.  Program participants will have access to the garden and garden tools but must provide their own seeds and plants.  A $25 annual fee per plot and $5 annual refundable deposit is required for use of one of the garden plots. A Garden Plot Agreement must also be signed by participants, showing agreement to following the rules and guidelines established by the Colgate Community Garden.

Community Garden Plot space is limited and applications will be accepted first-come, first-served. For more information about this program or to apply for a garden plot,  please contact Community Garden Manager Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu, 315-335-1433).

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Colgate hosts TEDxManhattan Viewing Event

By Sustainability Office on March 11, 2015
By Sara Reese ’16
rsz_img_5616-1On Saturday, March 7th, roughly 40 Colgate University students gathered in the LOJ, a historically environmentally and outdoor-themed housing residence on Broad Street, to watch the 2015 TEDxManhattan (and enjoy Chipotle) for much of the snowy afternoon.  This year’s event was entitled “Changing the Way We Eat” and included talks from educators, nonprofit workers, farmers, and many others not only engaged in the conversation of access to high quality, healthy, sustainable food, but also personally acting to bring that access to all Americans.
With Colgate’s food contract opening up, the TEDxManhattan event was a reflection of much of the buzz that has been generated around food at Colgate recently.  The Sodexo focus groups, food service committee, and dining survey have all reflected a desire for more sustainable, local, and healthy options at the dining locations here at Colgate.
Per the recommendations of the Sustainability Food Systems working group, Sodexo recently hired a Food Service Manager of Sustainability, Deb Hanson, who is working to provide more sustainable, local foods and transparency in terms of where our food comes from.
The TEDxManhattan event provided some food-for-thought (literally) for thinking about food transparency and how food can impact our health and environment, and brought together the global issue of food justice and the local food discussion that is occurring here at Colgate.
You can follow the embedded links to learn more about the TEDxManhattan event or Deb Hanson.
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What we can learn from composting in Seattle

By Sustainability Office on February 17, 2015

By Breanna Giovanniello ’16 (Environmental Studies and Geography Major from Cold Spring Harbor, NY)

Seattle is attempting to divert 60 percent of its waste from landfills by the end of 2015. To help them achieve this goal, the city recently announced its plan to fine residents for putting compostable food in the trash bin starting this past summer. Seattle has a long history of improving its waste stream. In 2005, Seattle prohibited recyclables from the garbage and began curbside food waste collection. In 2009, they required all residential properties to either subscribe to food and yard waste collection or participate in backyard composting. The city has an ambitious climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also supporting vibrant neighborhoods, economic prosperity, and social equity. Seattle demonstrates a strong commitment to actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience. Should we be using Seattle as a model city for the rest of the United States?

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption (approximately 1.3 billion tons) gets lost or wasted annually. This food waste not only adds to landfill waste (the world’s largest producer of methane gas), but it also amounts to a major squandering of resources including water, land, energy, labor, and capital. In developing countries, food waste occurs at the early stages of the food value chain due to the harvesting and storage techniques utilized. However, in medium- and high-income countries food is wasted at later stages in the supply chain. In the United States, 30% of all food that is produced is thrown away each year. That adds up to approximately $48.3 billion worth of food. This food loss is completely avoidable so what can we do to trim our waste?

We don’t have to jump to imposing fines on those who don’t compost, like Seattle, but we should be more aware of our impact. Three years ago, Frank Dining Hall switched to tray-less dining, which has helped to significantly cut down on food waste. What else can you do to reduce food loss?

  • Buy smarter: don’t buy more food than you can eat before it goes bad.
  • Rethink your portion size: restaurant servings are much larger than necessary so take your leftovers to go instead of leaving it for the trash.
  • Don’t forget about those leftovers: if you’ve spent money purchasing it or time cooking it, don’t forget to eat the remaining portion of your food.
  • Compost whatever remains you might have. It’s tough to have zero waste, but that doesn’t mean we have to send it to the landfill.

We should strive to become a society of sustainable consumption and think about using resources more efficiently, which includes keeping food out of the garbage!

Sources:

http://www.unep.org/wed/2013/quickfacts/

http://www.seattle.gov/util/MyServices/FoodYard/HouseResidents/FoodWasteRequirements/FAQs/index.htm

http://grist.org/news/seattle-to-shame-residents-for-throwing-away-food/

 


2014 Community Garden Annual Report

By Sustainability Office on February 11, 2015

Thanks to support from the Dean of the Faculty’s office along with faculty, students, and staff, last year was an exciting season for the Colgate Community Garden.  Last spring, the garden was moved from College Street to a new location on Broad Street south of the Townhouses called the Snyder Property.  Through lots of hard work and determination, the new 1⁄2 acre garden produced over 2000 pounds of food last growing season – the most we have had since the garden project started in 2010!

The garden team was led by garden consultant, Beth Roy and student interns Alex Schaff ’16, Quincy Pierce ’16, Brett Christensen ’16, and Glenna Thomas ’17. The Garden Interns were assisted in the spring and fall semesters by the student club, Green Thumbs, along dozens of student volunteers.

More than 100 individuals came to the garden throughout the season for visits or to volunteer their time. We are also grateful to all the Facilities’ staff who helped at the garden with tasks such as delivering wood chips and mowing, and were instrumental in the garden relocation process.

Approximately half of the produce that was harvested at the Colgate Community Garden was sold to students, faculty, staff and community members at a farm stand in the COOP. farm stand_opt The Farm Stand was constructed by intern Alex Schaff ’16 and was opened and filled with vegetables every Thursday.  Students were able to pay for their produce in cash or by using their ‘Gate Card.  Any produce that was not sold was donated to the Hamilton Food Cupboard.

For the 2014 growing season, approximately 60-70% of all produce that was grown was donated to the Hamilton Food Cupboard. For the second year in a row, Sam Stradling and the Food Cupboard donated several plants to the Garden in exchange for the donation of fresh produce later in the season.

The Garden also contained a number of raised bed garden plots available to Colgate community members who planted, managed, and harvested some of their own food.  For the 2015 growing season, we hope to expand the number of raised beds available to our community.

In 2015, we will also create a new “demonstration area.” This area of the garden will focus on new and innovative ideas in vegetable gardening (e.g., straw bale gardens, potato towers, and others).

Cooking classes or demonstrations will continue to be a goal of the garden. The team hopes to continue to work with Susan Weitz of the Chapel House, and perhaps even team up with Dining Services and the Shaw Wellness Institute to have cooking demonstrations on campus at the COOP.

If you have ideas on how to make the garden even more successful and/or want to get involved in any way, please contact Green Thumbs (greenthumbs@colgate.edu) for more information.


Carbon emissions at all-time low at Colgate University

By Sustainability Office on February 4, 2015

The Office of Sustainability just completed Colgate’s annual greenhouse gas inventory and we are happy to report that our emissions are at an all-time low.  In FY 2014, our gross emissions were 13,002 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2), down from 13,391 in FY 2013. Since our baseline in 2009, we have reduced our emissions by 4,842 MTeCO2 or by 28 percent. Despite a dramatic increase in the consumption of fuel oil #2 following the heating plant upgrade and a particularly cold and long winter, 2014 marked a year of positive trends. Colgate’s continuing drop in emissions associated with our vehicle fleet, refrigerant use, fertilizer use, electricity consumption, commuting, business travel, and paper use is due to the ongoing implementation of effective behavior change programs, numerous energy conservation and efficiency projects, and meticulous implementation of the projects and policies specified in our 2011 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S-CAP).

Greenhouse Gas Emissions at Colgate University. Fiscal Year 2009 vs 2014.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions at Colgate University. Fiscal Year 2009 vs 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projects that have reduced our campus carbon footprint include a lighting upgrade in Sanford Field House.  The installation of a solar energy array on 100 Broad Street. The replacement of all washers and dryers on campus to more water and energy efficient ENERGY STAR rated models.  Trayless dining in Frank Dining Hall.  We also installed alarm systems on all 112 fume hoods on campus to help prevent energy waste when sashes are left open unnecessarily. We estimate that the fume hood project has reduced energy use by 20-30% in each of our science buildings. We also purchased four new bikes for our Green Bikes Program, maintained a reduced mowing program to include over 30 acres of land, and achieved LEED certification for the Lathrop Hall renovation. These projects are part of a suite of projects that have not only reduced our campus carbon footprint but have also resulted in over $500,000 of avoided annual spending due to energy, water, and resource conservation.

In Fiscal Year 2014, Colgate also received American Tree Farm System certification for our 1,059 acres of forested land which confirms our long-term commitment to sustainable forest management. This certification coupled with a comprehensive tree survey estimated that 1,578 tons of carbon are sequestered annually by Colgate’s forested lands.  This coupled with our investment in renewable energy certificates (RECs) and carbon offsets have reduced our net campus emissions to 4,634 tons.  See figure below. This is one of the lowest levels of emissions of any institution in the country and puts us in excellent position to achieve our institutional goal of carbon neutrality by 2019.

2014 Net Emissions

Colgate University’s Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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