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Colgate University receives national climate leadership award

By John Pumilio on October 3, 2011

On June 23, 2011, Colgate received Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Award in the Baccalaureate category from the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). At the organization’s Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., John Pumilio, Colgate’s sustainability coordinator, and Lyle Roelofs, provost and dean of the faculty, accepted the award on the university’s behalf.

In 2010, Colgate University reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent (from 17,323 MTeCO2 in 2009 to 14,451 MTeCO2 in 2010). This reduction is mainly the result of conservation and efficiency projects through:

  • a 24 percent decrease in fuel oil consumption (nearly 88,000 gallons less in 2010 compared to 2009)
  • a 4 percent decrease in electricity consumption (1.3 million kWh less in 2010 compared to 2009)
  • a 33 percent decrease in paper use (43,000 lbs less in 2010 compared to 2009)
  • a 4 percent decrease in landfill waste (34 tons less in 2010 compared to 2009)

Combined, conservation and efficiency saved the university nearly $300,000 in operating costs while enhancing its liberal arts education as student participation was integral to these results through academic research, governance, and co-curricular club activities. Additionally, student-driven behavior change programs such as Eco-Olympics and the Green Living Program were designed by students and implemented for the first time in 2010.

In 2010, Colgate used 23,000 tons of locally-grown wood chips to provide heat and hot water to campus. Their wood-fired boiler displaced over one million gallons of fuel oil, avoided over 13,000 metric tons of emissions, and saved the university over $2 million in energy costs. CU is also experimenting with cropped biomass in the form of an 8-acre willow plot in the hopes of cultivating some of its own energy.

In 2010, the institution also implemented a full-blown electronic waste recycling program with 18 stations located throughout campus, implemented a new composting program, and broke ground on a new half-acre community vegetable garden. Vegetables and herbs from the garden were sold back to the university and served in its dining halls. Each program was funded by the Class Gift of 2010 and, students are currently overseeing each of these initiatives. Colgate’s administration leads by creating opportunities and opening pathways for student research and innovation.

Regarding transportation, Colgate expanded its Green Bikes program by purchasing an additional 12 bikes and introduced a new online carpooling program in order to help reduce its employee commuting emissions.

Colgate’s Green Office Program, also introduced in 2010, is indicative of their approach. Eight teams representing 65 employees registered for and are actively pursuing official Green Office Certification.

In April of 2010, Colgate’s faculty officially approved the goals of a Colgate education. Among them, they specified that a Colgate education should enable students to “recognize their individual and collective responsibilities for the stewardship of the earth’s resources and the natural environment” and graduate as “engaged citizens strive for a just society.” To meet these ends, Colgate offers numerous courses focused on sustainability and climate change.

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