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"Being green is our job. We foster a human ecological environment here on a daily basis, so our students, and all of us, learn from what we have and from what we do." Millard Dority | Director of Campus Planning, Buildings and Public Safety
College of the Atlantic was founded by individuals deeply concerned with sustaining the natural world. These founding trustees believed there was a longing among students and faculty to focus their studies of everything from physics to public policy to poetry on understanding the relationships between humans and our environment. Sustainability on campus and in the world have always been at the heart of the COA mission.
From the founding of COA in 1969, we were the first college to offer a degree in Human Ecology and the only college to offer Human Ecology, as its one and only degree. COA was the first college in Maine, and one of the first in the nation, to embrace the quest to protect and improve the environment as its organizing theme.
During our first year of classes, 1972-1973, lobbying efforts of students in the Consumer Protection and the Law class were recognized as key to passage of Maine's returnable beverage container bill in the 1973-74 special session of the Maine Legislature. This bill was passed despite heavy lobbying against the bill by the well-financed beverage industry.
Three decades later, COA continues to work towards sustainability on campus and in the world:
- In 2005, COA became the first campus to hold a zero waste graduation.
- In 2005, COA hired a director of sustainability to ensure a sustainable future in all our activities.
- In 2006, COA became the first college or university to declare itself net-zero for carbon emissions.
- In 2007, COA signed a three-year contract for 100% renewable electricity from the Worumbo Project hydropower plant on the Androscoggin River in Lisbon Falls, Maine. This saves COA the 400 tons of carbon it emits via electricity.
- In 2007, COA was deemed the greenest of all colleges and universities in the world by Grist.com.
- In 2008, COA opened state-of-the-art sustainable dorms. The Kathryn W. Davis Student Residence Village employs biomass pellet heating for hot water and in-floor radiant heating, maximized solar energy siting, super-insulated and ceilings using recycled materials, and frequent thermal breaks to eliminate heat loss. Within the buildings, available light is maximized to reduce electricity use and the gray water from showers is recycled to preheat water going into the hot water system. Similarly, an energy recovery central ventilation unit preheats fresh air coming into the building during the heating season-to name just a few of the residences' green innovations.