At Saint Michael’s College we work together to promote sustainability in all of its dimensions. We use our campus as a classroom to educate the campus community about the importance of living and working sustainably. This means using natural resources wisely and efficiently, in ways that preserve them for future generations. With extensive composting and recycling systems, water bottle refilling stations, and solar panels run out of the Natural Area, the college embraces its obligation to contribute to a socially and ecologically responsible world by connecting students, staff and faculty with opportunities, knowledge and skills to create a sustainable future.
The Sustainability Committee makes recommendations regarding sustainability to President Sterritt, who is strongly supportive of an institutional commitment to sustainability. The committee, composed of students, staff and faculty, meets regularly to discuss priorities and goals, and to implement campus initiatives focused on sustainable solutions to multifaceted institutional challenges, and educational programs to equip students with skills to create change and better understand our rapidly changing planet.
We take every opportunity to be mindful and to appreciate the beauty and the limits of the natural world.
At a Glance:
- Saint Michael’s has universal recycling and composting, based upon the Vermont law that is designed to keep as much solid waste as possible out of the landfill
- Saint Michael’s Eco-Reps are undergraduate student leaders who promote sustainability on campus
- The college uses both geothermal energy and a solar array for heating, cooling and electricity in order to reduce our carbon emissions
- In 2017 Saint Michael’s became just the 27th college in the country to receive the designation of Bee Campus USA
- The 400 acre Natural Area adjacent to campus provides resources for long-term research and environmental education programs
- Saint Michael’s was among the first colleges to sign the St. Francis Pledge, a commitment to care for the natural world, and to advocate on behalf of people in poverty who face the harshest impacts of global climate change.
At Saint Michael’s, we do our best to minimize the impact of our energy choices. Since 2015, the college has been focusing on renewable energy sources to reduce our reliance of fossil fuels. Across campus off of Lime Kiln road, the college’s solar array collects power from the sun and produces about 270,000 kWh annually. The campus also utilizes geothermal energy pumps to heat and cool our newest buildings on campus.
Since 2001, the college has worked closely with Efficiency Vermont to identify opportunities to reduce energy demands via more efficiency lighting and technology. To date, thanks to our partnership with Efficiency Vermont, the college has saved over 3.1 million kWh annually. Pomerleau Alumni Center is a LEED certified building; Dion Family Student Center and Quad Commons Residence Hall exceed LEED efficiency.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Each year the Office of Sustainability updates the college’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory (which tracks Scopes 1 & 2 emissions). Here is a snapshot of our current inventory. You’ll see that the College has reduced its carbon emissions by 28% since 2003. This is significant as we’ve added 6 buildings over this time period!
Stewarding our Campus Lands
Our grounds department manages the campus landscape with the environment in mind. This means caring for the land in a manner that is the least impactful to the environment and the various organisms (other than just people) that call Saint Michael’s home. The majority of the campus is not watered, and the central green is watered only in the driest of summers. For the Doc Jacob fields, we use a ground water recycling system. Young trees are watered for the first year or two, but just localized to their root area. Pesticides and herbicides are not used. All grass clippings and leaves are incorporated into the College’s Compost site (also managed by the Grounds Department).
Bee Campus Certification
In April of 2017, Saint Michael’s became the 2nd campus in Vermont and 23rd campus nationwide to be certified as a Bee Campus. The Bee Campus USA designation recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, among thousands of other species.
FREE GMT Commuter Pass to all Students, Staff and Faculty
Saint Michael’s College is a proud member of Green Mountain Transit’s Unlimited Access Program. All students and Saint Michael’s employees can ride GMT, Burlington’s city bus system, for free! The program is funded by the college as a benefit of enrollment and employment. With convenient routes all over the Burlington area, why use your own car! For route information, visit GMT’s website.
Solar Powered Electric Vehicle Charge Stations
During the summer of 2011, Saint Michael’s College and Green Mountain Power partnered to install 2 electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot near Klein Hall (also installed were solar panels on the roof of Klein Hall to offset the electricity usage from the charging stations).
First Year Students’ Go Green Welcome Kits
Since 2008, we have provided a snazzy Green Welcome package for every first-year student. The package is placed in the dorm rooms by the amazing RA staff of the first year Residence Halls. This kit includes “tools” to help each first year student get started on the pathway to green living, such as reusable mugs, information about recycling on campus, and the SMC Go Green Guide.
Saint Michael’s is proud of our commitment to solid waste reduction on our campus. The Sustainability Committee, Eco-Reps and Green Up provide leadership in promoting the efficient management of waste, including recyclables, trash and compost. In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed Act 148, a universal recycling and composting law that offers Vermonters a new set of systems and tools for keeping as much as possible out of the landfill. The law is an update to the mandatory recycling law and now includes banning organics (yard/leaf debris and food scraps) from the landfill as well as specific container requirements for publicly accessible areas.
What does this mean for campus and everyone on it? It’s the LAW to properly sort and dispose of the materials we use on campus. This means ALL recyclables must be recycled, ALL food scraps & other organics must be composted, and the remaining “trash” must be sent to the landfill. Luckily, we make it super easy for everyone on campus to do just this! Here’s how it works on campus.
- Every building, every floor, every office space, every classroom, every residential room and apartment has a blue bin for recycling
- Students living in the Residence Halls empty their recycling into the recycling containers located on each floor in the Trash/Recycling room.
- Students living in the townhouses/apartments are responsible for bringing all recycling out to the nearest recycling dumpster by their living area (recycling dumpsters are clearly labeled and conveniently located next to the trash dumpster). What is recyclable on campus? Download this handy guide to find out!
- Electronics fall under the mandatory recycling law and are banned from the landfill. Employees (with college-owned electronics) should submit a work order through the Facilities work order system for staff to pick-up any electronics that need to be recycled. The college works with Good Point recycling to ensure these items are responsibility and ethically disposed of.
- Since 2007, the college has been composting all of its pre- and post-consumer food scraps from the dining hall in Alliot. With Act 148, now the rest of campus gets to join in on the fun! Just as recycling is easy on campus, it’s easy to discard your food scraps so we can turn them into compost to be used on the campus landscape!
- Every building on campus has a food scrap container (generally, this is located on the first floor of every building). For the Residence Halls, every floor in each building has a green food scrap container located in the Trash/Recycling room. For all students living in the apartments/townhouses, there is a small green food scrap container in the kitchen that is clearly labeled with what we do and don’t accept in the college compost. Students in the apartments/townhouses are responsible for emptying the container into a green compost toter located next to every trash/recycling dumpster near the living area. To keep with the spirit of reducing waste, please take good care of your bin so that future students can use it.
Year End Move-Out: Ditch the Dumpster
In 2015, we instituted the annual Ditch the Dumpster campaign, which is an effort to reduce the amount of waste generated by students during move-out and to “re-home” items in good condition with local non-profits and other organizations. During Finals Week, student volunteers help staff a centrally located collection site.
In 2016, the Mobilization of Volunteers Efforts (MOVE) office contributed to expanding the campaign’s impact on and off campus. With MOVE’s help, the campaign was able to increase the list of acceptable items (and organizations whom benefited from the campaign) to include clothing and non-perishable food items. Since its inception, the Ditch the Dumpster campaign has not only successfully diverted thousands of pounds annually from the waste stream, but it has also raised awareness about the importance of donating items to those in need rather than carelessly tossing them away.
Orientation and Move-In Day
The Eco-Reps and members of Green-Up will be available during New Student Orientation in August and on Move-In Day, to educate and promote sustainability and recycling – to provide information about where to recycle cardboard, boxes and other packaging items and to introduce students and families to Saint Michael’s commitment to a sustainable campus.
Saint Michael’s College has been composting food waste from the dining facilities along with landscape waste such as leaves for years. In 2019 we made the transition to the use of compostable plates, cups, and utensils for events not using washable dishes and silverware. In addition, we are increasing outreach and education efforts to student housing units and in many campus buildings to further expand composting, thereby increasing the availability of nutrient-rich compost while reducing waste going to landfills.
Saint Michael’s has had a strong and ongoing commitment to reducing energy consumption through infrastructure and policy choices, and to using renewable energy sources (we have two solar arrays and two geothermal heating installations). We have reduced our carbon emissions significantly over the past 15 years while adding 8 new buildings. Currently we are coordinating a comprehensive campus energy audit, which will be incorporated into the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), which is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance, maintained by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Saint Michael’s currently has a Silver rating, and we will be submitting our updated application in the spring of 2020.
Single Use Plastic Reduction
Since 2013 when Saint Michael’s banned plastic water bottles, we have been committed to reducing use of single-use plastics on campus. Each year we provide students with reusable water bottles or coffee mugs, and provide them with reusable bags to keep in their backpacks. During the 2018-2019 academic year one of our Eco-Reps coordinated a campus-wide campaign focused on reduction of single-use plastics. Through digital signage, posters and meetings with many offices, the campus became educated about the consequences of plastics in the environment. As a result of this ongoing effort, our dining services has committed to the use of compostable plastics whenever plastics are used (utensils, cups and bowls), and we have improved the efficiency of our recycling and composting systems.