The first premise of this plan is that Kalamazoo College must ensure that its campus and plant operations (the areas with the largest and most immediate environmental impact) reflect, respect and contribute toward achieving sound
sustainable practices. However, this plan also includes various academic and community outreach initiatives as means to inform and shape values that acknowledge the world’s natural resources are limited and to promote different use patterns as a means to lessen adverse impacts.
The plan proposes aggressive but achievable goals in three priority areas that are particular to Kalamazoo College and the broader Kalamazoo community: i.e.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction; Resource Conservation; and Academics and Civic Engagement. It deliberately resists the trend toward symbolic gestures or strategiessuch as purchasing offsets that are popular but are not likely to lead to much real progress in reducing Kalamazoo College’s actual carbon emissions. The plan aims to take a principled approach to sustainability by selecting specific objectives in areas in which Kalamazoo can achieve real and measurable progress. Integrating into major operational decisions a careful cost-benefit analysis that evaluates the long-term economic and environmental implications of such decisions will be a cornerstone of the program.
The plan finds inspiration for environmental stewardship in the College’s mission of “prepar[ing] its graduates to better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world.” It is also consistent with one of the four principles of the Kalamazoo College Honor Code that specifically cites Accepting Environmental Responsibility with the following charge: “To maintain and improve the condition of our physical environment, we commit ourselves to the respectful and prudent stewardship of our community’s material and natural resources.”
Indeed, change on campus has already begun. For example, students have participated in projects to:
- Calculate the carbon sequestration potential of the Anderson Arboretum biomass.
- Use infrared technology to calculate heat loss in the College’s steam distribution system.
- Encourage more bicycle use by both campus residents and commuters.
- Develop software that will automatically retrieve data from the College’s energy meters, and publicly display current and historical energy use.
- Develop research strategies to reduce emissions for the purpose of fulfilling the ACUPCC commitment.
- Establish tray-less venues in the Hicks Center cafeteria.
Faculty and staff have sponsored several sustainability initiatives to:
- Promote locally sustainable agriculture and the use of locally grown food in the College’s food services operation through the Farms to K program.
- Establish the Sustainability Guild, which strives to encourage sustainable practices on campus, in the community, through the alumni network and around the globe.
- Offer several courses that are either focused on environmental issues or that incorporate the subject in the course syllabus.
Physical plant operations have met many components of the ACUPCC charge, including to:
- Establish a College policy that requires ENERGY STAR certification for products purchased by the College.
- Participate in the Recyclemania Waste Minimization competition.
- Launch a campaign to reduce all campus solid waste including those materials currently being recycled.
- Earn silver level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the renovation of the College’s student center.
While these projects are commendable, we have chosen to do more. As an institution of higher learning, we believe we have a responsibility to look for ways to achieve environmental improvements in our own operations through the emergence of new technologies, innovation using existing technologies, and causing behavioral change. We believe that by serving as a learning laboratory, not only can we contribute to and exemplify the range of behaviors and technological practices needed to achieve a more sustainable society, but also to involve our students in ways that will prepare them to be good environmental citizens.
The next section outlines goals and strategies that the College proposes for the next 10 years in three priority areas, as it moves toward securing a more sustainable future and to attain complete climate neutrality by the year 2050.