Unity College Sustainability Profile (pt.2)

(Continued from previous post.  Reminder that this is a snapshot of sustainability achievements compiled May/June, 2009.)

Campus Operations

Unity College has among the lowest emissions of any college in the country – 2 metric tons CO2e per FTE in 2008 (average emissions for 100 self-reporting baccalaureate colleges is 9.17 metric tons CO2e per FTE according to the ACUPCC online reporting system). As a small school of approximately 530 students, we’ve made operations improvements with limited resources – our endowment of less than $3 million is about 25% of our annual operating budget. According to the Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus, the Infrastructure challenge (or Campus Operations) involves Energy, Food, and Materials.

Energy

  • The 1,937-square-foot Unity House is expected to produce more electricity than it uses every year, and is complete with a 5.4 KW photovoltaic system, solar hot water, and a cold climate heat pump. The LEED Platinum home uses passive solar design and high-efficiency thermal insulation to decrease the need for fossil fuel inputs.
  • Unity College pays a premium rate for purchased electricity – 100% comes from Maine-made renewable sources including hydropower and biomass.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from campus energy use have decreased nearly 20% from 2001 levels despite adding new buildings and record enrollments. Reductions are attributed to efficiency upgrades in older buildings, and efficiency focus in new construction.
  • As a part of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Accelerating Campus Climate-Change Initiatives program, Unity College is proposing the appointment of a Sustainability Fellow to assess and prioritize emissions and cost savings from future improvements to multiple buildings.

Food

  • 18% of the meat, fish, and produce at the College came from local sources last year. All community and catered events place a primary emphasis on the use of local and seasonal foods.
  • Organic produce from our campus garden is used in the College cafeteria and at the local emergency food pantry. The garden staff works closely with dining services to grow and process food that will be useful for summer conference programs as well as school-year meals.
  • This summer, Unity appointed a Farm & Grounds Manager and two half-time Sustainable Food Production Assistants to manage food growing programs on campus.

 Materials

  • Unity College is committed to LEED building standards and environmentally friendly building materials. Recent construction of Maplewood, a residence hall, and the Health Center feature super-insulated ceilings and walls, low-e windows, and low VOC paints, glues, and adhesives. We source Maine products in construction and renovation projects whenever possible.
  • The College uses 100% post-consumer recycled fiber, FSC-certified paper in all campus printers and copiers.
  • Unity’s custodial services team has implemented a comprehensive green cleaning program that incorporates Green Seal certified cleaning products, Andersen door mats, and a team cleaning approach. The program has attracted attention from other institutions and serves as a model in the field.

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