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RecycleMania 2017

By Sustainability Office on January 31, 2017
-Madison Smith ’19

Get ready for RecycleMania! The eight-week long, intercollegiate competition will begin next week on February 5th and formally end on April 1st.

During this competition, representatives from Colgate’s Office of Sustainability will work to educate students, staff, and faculty on how to properly recycle in an effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill.

According to the RecycleMania website, the mission of the competition is to provide “tools and opportunities that inspire, empower, and mobilize colleges and universities to benchmark and improve efforts to reduce or eliminate waste.”

For the past week and a half, Colgate’s groundskeeping crew has been weighing campus-wide recycling to determine a baseline of what our usual recycling rates are. Once we have established our baseline, we will set a recycling goal – a certain percentage of waste that we would like the university to recycle.

To reach this recycling goal, every two weeks during the eight-week competition, the office will focus on different types of materials that can be recycled.

The first two weeks will aim to inform students that the event is officially starting. Look for Green Raider Interns and Green Ambassadors in the Coop for recycling tips and prizes! Weeks three and four will focus on paper products that can be recycled, weeks five and six on the plastic and cans waste stream, and the final two weeks will highlight things you didn’t know were recyclable, such as e-waste and clothing.

We hope that Recyclemania ends with students, staff, and faculty feeling knowledgeable and excited about recycling both on campus and at home. It is such an easy, sustainable step that makes such a difference. It can help protect wildlife and habitats, reduce our need for landfills, and act as a material for innovative ideas and products. As a part of the Colgate community, we can be a catalyst for a greener and healthier planet!

Keep an eye out around campus for more Recyclemania news, tips, and updates!

Learn more about recycling at Colgate.

Patagonia Extended Study

By Sustainability Office on January 31, 2017

In December, The Off Campus Study committee and Dean’s Advisory Council approved an extended study trip to Patagonia for January of 2018.

The 22-day trip, directed by Colgate Associate Professor of Biology, Eddie Watkins and Sustainability Director, John Pumilio, will give students the opportunity to learn about forest conservation efforts and visit “The Colgate Forest” – a reforestation plot established as part of Colgate’s carbon-offsetting agreement with Patagonia Sur.

The half-credit extended study program, in Chile’s Aysén Region of Patagonia, will be a part of an Environmental Studies class focusing on natural resource conservation.

“Conservation biology is complex and requires an understanding of theory and the development of practice,” Watkins stated. “Part of preparing students to think and develop ideas related to conservation is exposing them to the diversity of models that are employed.”

Watkins and Pumilio hope that this new program will allow students to do just that: understand conservation biology in theory and in practice.

In March of 2016, Pumilio and Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, Tim McCay,  visited the site to update Colgate about the ongoing reforestation and carbon sequestration project occurring there. After spending nine days on site, they further realized the value of this project to Colgate’s academic mission and that the region, forest, and offset project promise an experience rich in learning and research.

The Colgate Forest sequesters 5,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, and plays an important role in helping Colgate to mitigate its impact on climate change and achieve carbon neutrality. Tim McCay (left), John Pumilio (right).

“Besides removing carbon from the atmosphere, the Patagonia Sur reforestation project is also restoring one of the most precious and endangered ecosystems on the planet, creating employment opportunities for local residents, and serving as a national and global model for other similar restoration projects. Above all, the project offers unlimited research potential for students and faculty in an area of the world where we’re just not doing a lot right now,” Pumilio stated.

While in Chile, students will be housed in comfortable staff lodging on the site, eat in a common kitchen, and travel around the area on horseback. Students will visit the Colgate Forest, conduct independent research projects and may help to plant trees as a part of reforestation efforts. Multi-day excursions to Lago Palena National Reserve and Lago Chican, and trips to the Village of Palena will expose students to the broader social context within Patagonian Chile.

The program and associated class will also provide a valuable avenue for academic enrichment.

“Few students are familiar with for-profit conservation models as that developed by Patagonia Sur. This opportunity will combine a semester-long seminar course with an extended study experience to Patagonia Sur,” Watkins stated.

Throughout the semester, students will explore various aspects of conservation biology including carbon sequestration techniques, ecosystem function, and biodiversity assessments.

“On the ground in Patagonia Sur, we will examine their conservation model first hand and study the Colgate Forest – a reforestation plot established as part of Colgate’s carbon-offsetting agreement with Patagonia Sur,” Watkins explained. “Students will be exposed to a wide array of conservation techniques and field ecology tools to measure technique effectiveness.”

Perhaps most importantly, this opportunity will provide students the opportunity to witness first-hand both the effects of and the solutions to climate change.

“Our world is changing and our students are going to be on the front lines to deal with this change,” said Watkins.

For more information about the program, please contact Pamela Gramlich at 315-228-6360.

Sustainability Showcase: Chapel House

By Sustainability Office on January 27, 2017

This summer, Colgate’s first geothermal heat exchange system was installed at the Chapel House, helping the university to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2019.

“The system is expected to save over $20,000 per year in energy costs and reduce Colgate’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 50 tons,” stated Director of Sustainability, John Pumilio.

The pump acts as a central heating and cooling system that uses electricity to transfer heat to and from the ground. This system takes advantage of the moderate temperatures beneath the earth’s surface, using the earth as a heat source in the winter and as a heat sink when temperatures are high.

“By switching to an electrically based heating system, there are no longer fossil fuels burned on the site… The primary source of electricity used at Colgate is generated by hydroelectric power, thereby reducing the carbon impact of the system further,” explained architect on the project, Tom Hartman.

The $150K project will pay for itself in just seven years and is anticipated to save the university more than $650K over the course of its lifetime, resulting in over a 300% return on investment.

The geothermal system was not the only environmentally friendly addition made to the Chapel House this summer. The building’s ventilation was redone to ensure no heat was being wasted, a new roof was installed and sealed for maximum efficiency, additional insulation was added, and LED light bulbs replaced old lighting throughout the facility. All of these changes have worked together to reduce energy consumption by 50%.

“Project manager, Robert Dwyer, and Colgate’s entire Planning, Design, and Construction team deserve a lot of credit for making this historic, renewable energy project a reality at Colgate,” Pumilio stated.

Representatives from the Chapel House are also pleased with the renovations. They released a statement in response to the sustainability-related updates made to the facility:

“Chapel House’s mission is to provide a quiet space for all to explore their personal, spiritual and religious quests. Chapel House was conceived in relation to and in harmony with the natural wooded environment past Frank dining hall at the edge of the campus. In our 2016 renovation, we wanted to accentuate our relationship to our natural environment both by adding more windows and making the building more energy efficient with a heat pump system, new lights, roofing etc. We are thus pleased that Chapel House now is not only a model for the value of quiet contemplation in a noisy and busy world, but also a model of energy efficiency, sustainability, and humility in a world which is wasteful and often irresponsible about its energy use. Thus Chapel House implicitly states now, that personal and spiritual quests will only really succeed in harmony with nature.”

The additions made to the Chapel House this summer are a great step toward achieving our university-wide goal of being carbon neutral by 2019.

Announcing the Spring/Summer 2017 Community Garden Internship

By Sustainability Office on January 26, 2017

The Sustainability Office is pleased to announce the opening of two Spring/Summer positions in the Community Garden. These positions grant students the ability to spend the summer in Hamilton getting hands-on experience in maintaining an organic vegetable garden, event planning, and volunteer management.

Department: Sustainability Office

Hours per Week: 6 hrs in spring; 40 hrs in summer

Job Description:                                  

The Sustainability Office is offering two paid Garden Internship positions to students starting in late-April 2017 until late-August 2017. Garden interns will help manage and promote the organic community vegetable/herb garden on campus. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding job. Work includes long days and exposure to outdoor elements (e.g., heat, sun, rain, etc.). The student interns are expected to coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties, as well as carry out an independent garden project from conception to completion. The Garden Interns will report directly to garden manager Beth Roy. Interns will work in close collaboration with other Colgate students, faculty, and staff to plan and manage the garden. The student interns will gain life-long skills and knowledge in planting and maintaining an organic garden, organizing events, and supervising volunteer workers.

Required Skills and Experience:                                   

Key Responsibilities

  • Work with garden manager Beth Roy to plan and manage the garden during the spring and summer seasons. Specific tasks include preparing soil, cultivating, planting, weeding, and harvesting.
  • Organize and supervise volunteer work parties.
  • Coordinate with Green Thumbs presidents to schedule a weekly time for volunteer work parties, and be at the garden during those scheduled times to supervise those work parties.
  • Manage an individual garden project, from conception to completion.
  • Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2017 growing season.

Recommended Qualifications and Skills

  • Strong work ethic and self-motivated.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Preference will be given to those with experience and firsthand knowledge in farming and/or gardening with vegetable crops; though previous garden experience is not required.
  • Experience organizing and supervising the work of others.
  • Tolerance for hard work and exposure to outdoor elements.
  • Excitement about promoting local farming and local food production.

Work Requirements and Benefits

Student interns will begin planning for the garden in late-March and will begin field work in late-April, working 6 hours per week. In May interns will begin to work 40 hours per week until the internship ends in August—the exact starting and ending dates will be set in consultation with Beth Roy. The two interns will also be able to take two weeks (non-overlapping) of vacation during the summer; again, this schedule will be set in consultation with Beth Roy.

To apply, send resume and one page cover letter to garden manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu) and apply online. The application deadline is March 22.

Starting Hourly Rate: spring semester – $9.30 (estimated because Financial Aid determines pay rate); summer – $10.00

Supervisor: Beth Roy, Garden Manager

Key Contacts: John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability; Christopher Henke, Associate Professor, Director of Upstate Institute and faculty advisor to the garden; Beth Roy, Colgate Community Garden Consultant

Colgate Annual Commuter Survey

By Sustainability Office on January 25, 2017

Each year, the Sustainability Office conducts a survey to assess the total carbon emissions coming from employees who commute to work.

The survey, distributed via email, asks Colgate employees to share information about their commuting habits such as how often they drive themselves to campus, the distance they drive each time, and the fuel efficiency of their vehicle. This data helps us determine commuting emissions and our overall annual Greenhouse Gas footprint. We have been tracking this data since 2009 as we strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019.

319 people representing an impressive 31% of Colgate employees completed this year’s survey. The results provided us with some interesting insights. The average Colgate commuter traveled 3,916 miles to and from work last year, using 156 gallons of gasoline and emitting 2,700 lbs of carbon dioxide in the process. When compared to the average American commuter, the average Colgate commuter traveled a shorter distance to work last year, but used more gallons of gasoline. This suggests that the average Colgate commuter uses a vehicle that is less fuel-efficient than that used by the average American commuter.

In total, Colgate commuters traveled 3,991,229 miles last year and used 150,027 gallons of gasoline. That’s enough travel to go to the moon and back more than eight times! These numbers mark an average increase of 19 gallons per commuter last year from the previous year and the highest numbers since 2013. On the positive side, about 20% of respondents to this year’s survey indicated that they walked or rode a bike to campus at least once per week, with an average of 3.5 days per week – a number that was constant across all seasons. This marks a 5% increase in the number of Colgate employees walking or riding a bike from last year’s average of 15%. Last year’s numbers were also less consistent, with more respondents walking or biking to campus in the summer and fall semester than in the spring semester.

To help Colgate achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2019, commuters can explore options to decrease the amount of gasoline they use in a year to drive to campus. Driving shorter distances to campus not only saves time and money, but also reduces your carbon footprint. Another option is to invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Several employees have already invested in hybrid or ll-electric vehicles. Reducing the number of days you drive to work can also reduce your carbon footprint. This last option could be accomplished by walking to work when weather and distance permits, working from home with your supervisor’s permission, or by carpooling with another Colgate employee who lives nearby. A number of employees commented on the survey that increased bike lanes would make commuting by bicycle more practical and safe, and suggested a variety of improvements that would make it easier for more people to opt out of driving to campus alone. These suggestions will be carefully considered as we rethink parking and circulation patterns on campus.

In the meantime, thank you as always for all you do to support sustainability on campus.



Tips for living green at Colgate

By Gordon Brillon on January 11, 2017

Moving in

Throughout the year, especially come move-out day, students throw out a large number of items because they realize that a number of what they brought with them are not practical nor useful in the residential halls. Packing for college can be a daunting task, and we’re here to help you prepare smartly and sustainably, while also working towards minimizing waste at the end of the year!

Check out our Packing Guide for helpful suggestions on what to bring and what to leave behind.


Continuing on the theme of waste reduction, we are relying on your help to improve our recycling rates! All residential halls use a two-stream recycling system, which means that there is a bin for paper and another for plastics, glass and metals. Additionally, we have E-waste recycling centers all over campus for electronic devices

Please take a moment to visit our Recycling page or read our recycling guide to become familiar with what is recyclable on campus.

General Tips

Here are a few things that we can all do to reduce our individual environmental impact. We promise, they’re not difficult!

  1. Turn off the lights when not in use. Get in the habit of flipping the light switch off every time you leave a room.
  2. Switch to LED light bulbs. LEDs use 75-80% less energy than incandescent light bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer.
  3. Plug all electronics into a power strip or a Smart Strip. Electronic devices continue to consume energy even when they are turned off, known as “phantom load.” Plug all your electronics to a power strip and remember to turn it off to reduce energy waste from phantom load.
  4. Turn down heating. Set the thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours a day when you’re not in your room, and make sure to keep it at 55° during academic breaks when you head home.
  5. Wash laundry in cold water. Most clothes do not need a hot or warm water rinse as detergents today are capable of cleaning clothes in cold water. To save on water, wash only full loads of laundry.
  6. Purchase ENERGY STAR appliances and electronics. These appliances meet strict energy efficiency criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  7. Make your fridge energy efficient. Keep your fridges coils clean to boost its overall power and store jugs of water in empty spaces as water helps retain coldness better than air.
  8. Turn off the tap! Turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth saves 25 gallons a month. Turn it off while you are washing your hair and you save up to 150 gallons a month. While shaving, you save up to 300 gallons a month.
  9. Report damages. Leakages or dripping faucets should be reported to Facilities.

2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

By Gordon Brillon on January 11, 2017

This year marks Colgate’s eighth consecutive greenhouse gas inventory report. Colgate’s gross campus carbon emissions in Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) was 15,359 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2). We have reduced our net campus carbon footprint by 8,001 MTeCO2, representing a 48 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. 2016 State of Sustainability Report