The sustainability team was formed in 2007 when Goddard’s then president Marc Schulman signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. We conducted a carbon inventory, created a climate action plan, and began working to reduce energy use and emissions. Our goal is to be carbon neutral in fuels burned on campus and electricity usage by 2020. At the same time, we are working to increase energy efficiency, reduce consumption and waste, and integrate sustainability into all aspects of college activities.
Last January, we divested the Goddard endowment and moved the funds into two fossil fuel free accounts at Trillium Asset Management in Boston. The account has grown by 7.76% since January.
We are finalizing a contract with groSolar to become part of a 500 KW community solar system that will be built in Williamstown, VT. We don’t have room on the campus for all the panels we need, so community solar is a good alternative. In community solar, instead of the electricity generated by solar panels going directly to our campus, it will go into the Green Mountain Power grid, and we will count 300,000 kWh as ours. This will offset our carbon footprint by 54 tons of CO2/year. There is no cost to the college to join the community system, and we will save about $8,000/year on our electric bill.
Woodchip Heating System
Our permit for a woodchip heating system for the Plainfield campus was approved last November. We have applied to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for a loan, and we are also seeking funding from college supporters. We have started clearing the site just above the upper parking lot where the boiler will be built, and we hope to have the system in use for the 2016-2017 heating season. It will heat all the buildings on campus and will also heat hot water for all but two of our buildings. It will include an electrostatic precipitator, the latest technology to clean the emissions from the smoke stack. When the system is in place, we estimate that we will reduce our use of oil to 5-10,000 gallons/year. This will reduce our carbon emissions from burning oil by 504 tons.
Energy Efficiency and Reduced Fuel Usage
By replacing streetlight bulbs with LEDs, we have reduced our electricity usage by 42,025 kwh for the year. As a result of upgrades in buildings, appliances, and lighting since our first energy inventory in 2007, we have reduced our annual use of electricity by 40% from 730 to 438 mwh/year, and our electric bill has dropped by $36,000, even with two rate increases. We have also reduced our annual use of heating oil by 27% from 62,268 to 45,601 gallons in the 2014-2015 heating season.
Green Revolving Fund
We have a small green revolving fund that we are using to support energy upgrades. A green revolving fund is “funded” by the savings resulting from using energy more efficiently and provides an ongoing dedicated source of capital for sustainability projects that continue to save money. We used some of this fund to install the LEDs and to put in remote thermostats last fall that significantly reduced fuel usage. The thermostats paid for themselves by February, and we will install more this year. We expect to save about half the cost of the LED streetlights this year and should have $3 ,000-$4,000 in the green revolving fund to use next year.
We get most of our foods from local farms and vendors and from the Goddard garden in Plainfield. Littlewood Farm in Plainfield and Flywheel Farm in Woodbury are two of our main suppliers, and we also get produce from Black River Produce in Springfield, VT. Most of our baked goods are made in the Goddard kitchen from whole wheat grown at Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT, flour milled at Champlain Mills, and Cabot butter. We get tea from The Vermont Liberty Tea Co. that grows and packs its own teas and herbs in Waterbury, VT.
Clean Energy Fund
We have a voluntary $10/semester clean energy fee that can be paid at pre-registration by students who want to be stakeholders in the advancement of sustainability and renewable energy at the Vermont campus. The fund was initiated after a March 2013 survey of students found that 73% of respondents would donate to a voluntary clean energy fund. The fund is kept in an account to be used only for sustainability and will support continued upgrades in energy efficiency.
Goddard Sustainability Entrepreneurs’ Grant
The Sustainability Entrepreneurs’ Grant Program offers an annual $2,500 grant to a Goddard student in any program who is starting or developing a business or non-profit that offers solutions to local or global sustainability issues. The goal of the program is to cultivate responsible action towards nature, society, and future generations by supporting a business or non-profit that promotes sustainable living, social equity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and ecological protection and restoration.
The sustainability listserv that was started in Spring 2008 to send weekly messages about local and global news and resources to the Goddard community now has 353 members. Let us know if you would like to be included.
We are mowing some areas of the campus less often and other areas not at all to reduce fuel use and CO2 emissions and to protect wildlife habitats.
Travel to Campus
There is a ride share board at http://gnet.goddard.edu/ under Goddard Community, Ride Share Postings. (The ride share site is accessible for currently enrolled students, staff, and faculty; you must be logged in with your Goddard ID to access the intra-site.)
Goddard is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and member benefits are available to anyone in the Goddard community. The annual conference “Transforming Sustainability Education” will be held in Minneapolis from Oct. 25-28, 2015.
We welcome your ideas about how we can further advance sustainability at Goddard. Email us.
Bob Kenny, Goddard College President
Scott Blanchard, Director of Facilities
Bob Buchanan, Undergraduate Program Interim Director
Catherine Lowther, Faculty, Undergraduate Program