Unity College Sustainability Profile (pt.3)

(This is the third of three Profile posts.  Reminder that this is a snapshot of sustainability achievements compiled May/June, 2009.)

Administration and Finance

Unity’s tangible commitment to sustainability is pervasive: emissions data charts are prominently displayed in the facilities director’s office, business office staff routinely track energy consumption, dining services staff demand proper composting bins, everywhere students are engaging the campus as a sustainability laboratory. Unity is at a tipping point, with meaningful efforts emerging from every corner of campus. This commitment is championed by our president, a charter signatory to the ACUPCC, who has made it clear that sustainability is everyone’s job. The Community challenge (or Administration and Finance) of his Nine Elements includes Governance, Investment, and Wellness.

 Governance

  • Unity’s full-time sustainability coordinator reports directly to the president and serves on the Master Planning Committee.
  • Sustainability factors into every employee job description, and is a key component of annual performance reviews.
  • All department heads on campus are responsible for the development of a sustainability plan for their areas, linking departmental efforts to the climate action plan and other sustainability commitments.
  • President Thomashow established the Leadership Council for purposes of transparent and deliberative decision-making.  This Council sets the agenda for the College based on sustainability criteria.
  • As chief catalysts for sustainability initiatives on campus, students serve on the Master Planning Committee and the Leadership Council. Additionally, twelve work-study students report to the sustainability coordinator in recycling, farm, and office support positions.

 Investment

  • Unity College has partnered with Maine State Housing Authority to purchase carbon offsets. In 2008, the College purchased 250 Verified Emission Reductions to fund energy efficiency programs in low-income housing.
  • Through Unity’s Community Wind Assessment Program students and faculty employ the latest technology to assess feasibility of wind power projects for often under-resourced Maine communities.
  • Last October more than 20 campus participants weatherized dozens of area homes with financial support and training from the college, state, and local agencies.
  • Unity College has played a key role in the development of the Mid-Maine Sustainability Coalition, which convened in January with 60 business and organization leaders to define a “2020 Vision” for a sustainable region.

 Wellness

  • Unity recognizes that a healthy campus is a more interesting and vital learning community. Employee wellness programs such as Sustainable U encourage lunchtime hiking, walking, yoga, and meditation activities for college staff.
  • The Dean’s Cup – a year-long competition among residence halls – emphasizes cooperation and teambuilding through friendly physical, educational, environmental, and purely silly contests. The recent decline in incident rates on campus has been linked to the successful implementation of this community building program.

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