Campus Committee for Sustainability

  Bar Island from the shore at College of the Atlantic

In 2009, the college created a separate-standing committee not only to ensure a democratic and transparent method of managing social, economic, and environmental sustainability but also to highlight  the importance that sustainability plays in the community. As the Campus Committee for Sustainability (CCS) charter reads, the committee’s purpose is to:

  • Encourage and maintain a sense of social and environmental accountability in all aspects of the college’s operation
  • Promote leadership, responsibility, and involvement among COA community members regarding issues of sustainability
  • Maintain and encourage transparency, oversight, and clarity in regard to college sustainability
  • Advise the COA community on the most environmentally and socially responsible courses of action

Education and Information

CCS recognizes the crucial role that education and accessible information play in a sustainable community. The committee works with community members to identify ways to make the college’s practices and use of resources more sustainable. The committee also works through the college’s governance system to create policies and ensure that existing ones are understood and transparent.

Recycling – The committee has worked with the director of Buildings and Grounds and work-study students to assess the effectiveness of the college’s recycling program for bottles, cans, plastic, cardboard, and paper. In Spring 2009, the committee surveyed the community to gauge community use and satisfaction with the recycling program. Since then, CCS has updated the recycling program by clarifying what items can be recycled and providing bins for recycling ease. Feedback from subsequent surveys will lead to future improvements in this program.

Composting – The committee saw the need to better manage the composting of food “waste” from the campus dining hall and residences. CCS arranged for several new composting bins in the community gardens. Work-study students collect pre- and post-consumer food wastes from the dining hall and from student residences and transport them to the composting facility. Since achieving a high temperature plays a key role in ensuring effective composting, pile temperatures are monitored and recorded; this compost enriches the community gardens.

Policy Development – The committee updates and develops policies pertaining to sustainability activities on campus and works with the campus governance system to have all policies posted on the college website. In Spring 2010, the committee worked with a student undertaking a course project and created a policy banning bottled water at campus events.

Educating the Community –The committee develops and shares information related to sustainability, so that new students can effectively take part in the community’s efforts to recycle materials, save energy, and make sound choices to protect the environment.

Signage – CCS has developed and deployed effective signs to inform the COA community about how to conserve energy and reduce waste.

Clotheslines – CCS installed clotheslines outside of student residences to encourage air drying of laundry to reduce electricity use from dryers.

LED Lighting – The committee installed a variety of LEDs (light emitting diodes) in the Take-A-Break cafeteria and in a nearby outdoor breezeway to gauge community reaction to these new lights through the use of a questionnaire survey. The community’s reaction has been highly favorable and more LEDs will be installed in other public spaces. They save more energy and have a longer life than compact fluorescent or incandescent lights.