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13 ways Colgate is committed to sustainability

By Daniel DeVries on October 13, 2013
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Triskaidekaphobia be gone. It is the Year of ‘13, and being the 13th of the month, it’s time for another list the length of Colgate’s lucky number. This month we are exploring 13 of the many ways Colgate shows its continued commitment to sustainability.

1. Carbon Neutral by 2019: In January 2009, Colgate became a signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Since then, Colgate has reduced gross emissions by 20 percent and net emissions to 5,500 tons (one of the lowest of any institutions in the country).  Along the way we received the 2011 National Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature.

Colgate University plan for Carbon Neutrality by 2019

Colgate carbon neutral by 2019.

2. Forest sequestration project: Colgate’s 1,000 acres of forest in and around campus is a constant subject of scientific study for our students. The forest contains 165,491 tons of CO2 and absorbs 1,535 tons of CO2 annually. We presented our findings at the national Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference in October 2013.

Some of the 1,000 acres of trees around campus

Some of the 1,000 acres of trees around campus.


3. Biomass heating: Colgate’s wood-fired boiler meets 75 percent of campus heat and hot water needs. Installed in the early 1980s, the boiler processes approximately 20,000 tons of locally and sustainably harvested wood chips per year. Last year the boiler saved Colgate 1.2 million gallons of fuel oil, 13,800 tons of emissions, and $1.8 million in heating costs.

A stream of wood chips cascade into the “hopper,” the troth that feeds the firebox.

Wood chips cascade into the “hopper,” the trough that feeds the firebox.

4. Willow field: In 2009, Colgate planted 60,000 8-inch willow shoots a mile from campus to grow our own energy. This plot will yield about 900 dry tons of biomass during a 20-year period for use in Colgate’s wood-fired boiler. This is a carbon neutral operation.  Read our willow field blog for more info: http://colgateswillowfield.blogspot.com.

Planting of willow trees on Colgate to be used as sustainable fuel.

Willow trees to be used as sustainable fuel.


5. Green Raiders and office programs: Green Raider student interns work to inspire sustainable behavior by students while the Green Office Program promotes individual and workplace sustainable behavior on campus.  Both programs create awareness and practice sustainability through awards, online resources, and how-to-guides.
Green Raiders

6. Patagonia Sur: In 2012 we planted the Colgate University Forest, located in the Patagonia Sur Nature Reserve in the Palena province of southern Chile, which consists of 225,000 native trees on 428 acres of land. This innovative agreement results in the purchase of 5,000 tons of forestry-based carbon offsets per year for 15 years. Importantly, the agreement creates academic opportunities for students and faculty to conduct research within the Colgate Forest and The Patagonia Sur Nature Reserve in general.

Patagonia Sur, photo by Ian Helfant.

Patagonia Sur. Photo by Ian Helfant.

7. Green Bikes: The mission of this program is to provide Colgate students with bikes.  New bikes are purchased each year as the program continues to expand.  As of 2013, we have 25 bikes in our fleet.

Chelsea Hoffman '11, unlocks one of the Green Bicycles outside of the Case Geyer Library on the Colgate Campus.

Chelsea Hoffman ’11, unlocks one of the Green Bicycles outside of the Case Geyer Library.

8. Community garden: Made possible by a gift from the Class of 2010, Colgate’s 0.5-acre community garden is maintained by the student group Green Thumbs, and student interns employed through the Sustainability Office. Food from the garden can be found in Frank Dining Hall or at the farm stand in the Coop during fall harvest.

The Colgate Community Garden

The Colgate Community Garden.

9. Green Summit: The Green Summit is Colgate’s longest running annual environmental symposium where students, faculty, staff, and community members come together to brainstorm and implement sustainability projects on campus.

John Pumillio presents at the Green Summit

John Pumillio presents at the Green Summit.

10. E-Waste recycling stations: Colgate recycles electronic waste including computers, monitors, televisions, and printers through Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery, of Rochester, NY. There are 15 stations around campus recycling cell phones, iPods, cables/cords, printer cartridges, batteries, cameras, calculators, etc.

E-waste sculpture, by Leslie Strobel '10 and Jesse Chang '12.

E-waste sculpture by Leslie Strobel ’10 and Jesse Chang ’12.

11. Tray-less dining and composting: We compost about 300 pounds of food scraps from Frank Dining Hall at a campus composting facility. This saves garbage pick-up fees, further reducing our carbon and ecological footprints. Tray-less dining in Frank has reduced food waste by about 30 percent while reducing the need for water to wash the trays.

Jean welcomes people to Frank with a smile.

Jean welcomes students to Frank Dining Hall with her ever-present smile.

12. Sustainable building practices: Colgate’s newest building, the Trudy Fitness Center, has recently been certified LEED Gold by the United States Green Building Council, and recent Lathrop Hall renovations are on track to receive Silver LEED status.

Trudy Fitness Center achieved LEED Gold Standard

Trudy Fitness Center achieved LEED Gold Standard.

13. Solar thermal energy: Students living in 100 Broad Street are now using renewable solar energy instead of fossil fuel for their domestic hot water use. The solar thermal array will eliminate the use of nearly 900 gallons of fuel oil while reducing heating costs. The 600 square feet of solar panels will reduce Colgate’s carbon footprint by more than nine tons, inching the university ever closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2019.

Solar heating at 100 Broad at Colgate University

Solar heating at 100 Broad.

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