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Going 'Green'

Sustainability an important focus


05/05/2009

In 2007, President Mary K. Grant signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, an agreement to make campuses across the country carbon neutral. Almost immediately after, the MCLA Sustainability Committee was born. 

The committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students, works to reduce MCLA's carbon footprint, promote greater energy efficiency, strengthen recycling efforts and boost awareness of environmental issues. 

In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint by 20 percent over the next four years, Vice President James Stakenas and student intern Maarten Pellegrini are analyzing the extent of carbon saved by existing and potential MCLA projects. These potential efforts could include a solar array on the Amsler Campus Center roof, as well as infrastructure upgrades, use of biodiesel, carbon sequestering forest management and the addition of biomass heat or a cogeneration system to MCLA's power plant.

All of these efforts meet the dual goal of reducing the College's carbon footprint and offering practical educational opportunities to students.

The Recycling Subcommittee has implemented recycling in all campus buildings, instituted a policy of using recycled paper on campus, and has posted an awareness message in the computer labs encouraging students to reduce their paper usage. Additionally, MCLA's cafeteria food waste is donated to Caretaker Farm, an organic farm in Williamstown, for composting. 

In addition, MCLA's cafeteria now uses biodegradable cutlery, sponsors "trayless" Tuesdays and Thursdays, and offers fewer disposable cartons.  Academic Technology is cooperating in the effort to reduce paper by offering paperless course workshops. Future plans include an electronics drop-off day for the local community.

An educational garden on campus engaged many participants, including students in a "Teaching Math and Science K-8" class, Pi Upsilon Pi, and several groups of volunteers. The resulting fresh produce was donated to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.