The sustainability team was formed in 2007 when Goddard’s president 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 carbon emissions with a goal to become carbon neutral in fuels burned on campus and electricity usage by 2020. At the same time, we have been working to reduce consumption and waste, and integrate sustainability into all aspects of college activities.
Energy Efficiency: Electricity
By replacing exterior and streetlight bulbs with LEDs, converting other fixtures to LEDs, putting timers on pathway lights, and properly sizing or eliminating electric hot water heaters, we have reduced our electricity usage by 58,884 kWh over the last two years. As a result of upgrades since our first energy inventory in 2007, we have reduced our annual use of electricity by 42% from 730 to 421 MWH/year.
Energy Efficiency: Heating Oil
As a result of building upgrades, we have reduced our annual use of heating oil by 29% from 62,268 gallons in the 2006-2007 heating season to 44,430 gallons in the 2015-16 heating season. This has reduced CO2 emissions by about 200 tons. The biggest improvement over the last year was the installation of a nest thermostat in the music building that resulted in a 30% drop in heating oil use in that building.
Woodchip Heating System
Our permit for a biomass heating system for the Plainfield campus was approved last November. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has agreed to provide the mortgage loan, and we are seeking construction period funding from a bank and from college supporters. The College will be taking construction bids and expects to select bidders, sign contracts, and begin construction by late September. Installing the system will happen in two phases: constructing the building that will house the boiler, and digging trenches and laying the pipes that will carry hot water to all the buildings on campus. The project will use state of the art equipment, including an electrostatic precipitator, the latest technology to clean the emissions from the smoke stack. We anticipate that the system will start heating the campus sometime this winter. By switching to biomass, we will be using local, renewable fuel that is less expensive than oil, we will reduce our carbon emissions by about 470 tons/year, and our campus operations will become carbon neutral as our forests will absorb more CO2 than we produce.
Last fall, we signed a contract with groSolar to become part of a 500 KW community solar system that will be built in Middletown Springs, 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. GroSolar is working through the permitting process and hopes to begin construction this fall.
We get most of our foods from local farms and vendors. 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 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 sustainability news and resources to the Goddard community now has 377 members. Let us know if you would like to be included.
Travel to Campus
There is a ride share board at http://gnet.goddard.edu/ under Goddard Community, Ride Share Postings.
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 2016 conference will be held in Baltimore from Oct. 9-12.
We welcome your ideas about how we can further advance sustainability at Goddard. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Lowther for the Sustainability Team
Bob Kenny, President
Scott Blanchard, Director of Facilities
Bob Buchanan, Faculty Undergraduate Program
Catherine Lowther, Faculty Undergraduate Program
Kelly McDowell, Assistant to the President