In this area you will find a collection of resources related to specific sustainability topics. Each section contains an overview of key goals and data related to the topic.
For more details on the goals and action items in this area, download the Campus Sustainability Plan from the Planning and Progress page.
Energy and Climate
Energy use impacts both air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, negatively impacting the environment and communities. Shifting to cleaner energy sources and decreasing energy usage will enable Connecticut College to reduce its environmental and social impacts while providing financial benefits over time. In the past decade, the College has updated its central steam plant and installed geothermal wells to heat New London Hall, leading to a decrease of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In 2015, the United States committed to reducing carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Although the federal government has since stepped back from this pledge, in May 2017 Conn joined with hundreds of academic institutions, municipalities and businesses to show our support for the Paris Climate Agreement when President Katherine Bergeron signed the “We Are Still In” pledge.
Academics and Research
Sustainability is implicit in Connecticut College’s mission and core values. An understanding of sustainability and the interconnectedness of environment, society and economy is key to educating students (and faculty and staff) to “put the liberal arts in action as citizens in a global society.” Ultimately it is through education that Connecticut College can have the greatest impact on the sustainability of our world. As our students take what they learn into their lives and careers, they help increase the sustainability of individuals, organizations and communities throughout the world. This education includes the formal curriculum as well as opportunities and experiences outside the classroom, both on and off campus. Our overall goal is for sustainability to be more broadly integrated in both the formal and informal learning at the College for all members of the campus community.
Each year, students, faculty, staff and visitors consume more than 620,000 meals in our dining halls. Currently around 6 percent of the food we purchase for the Dining Halls or the student-run coffee shops is either local or has a third-party sustainable certification. Increasing this amount will require a rethinking of our menus and additional resources for Dining Services. In the summer of 2018, we will be implementing a food-waste tracking system which we hope will help refine the amount of food we purchase and prepare. This system should help reduce the amount of food waste produced in our dining halls and any monetary savings will help increase the ability of Dining Services to purchase more local and sustainable food.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
Operating a campus necessarily comes with an environmental impact from the everyday use of buildings and resources. The more than 2,600 daily users of our campus create 800 tons of waste each year and reducing this waste is a key goal. Achievement of waste reduction goals will be strongly tied to successfully educating community members to engage in habits that conserve resources. We will also continue to monitor the possibilities for large-scale projects as new technology, composting facilities and funding become available.
Campus Planning and Administration
Campus sustainability cannot be accomplished through the efforts of just one office or a small group of champions. To be truly successful, sustainability must be included at the highest levels of decision-making about investments, equity and inclusion and long-term campus planning. Using our investments in a way that upholds the mission and values of the College is especially important to our students. In Spring 2016, the Student Government Association passed a resolution calling on the College to create a plan to divest from fossil fuel holdings. While the College currently has no direct holdings in this industry, clarifying a sustainable investments policy will be a key next step to meeting this charge from our students. When holistic sustainability is considered as a default in high-level decision-making, it will become easier to implement all of the goals outlined in this plan.
Nature and Ecosystems
The College landscape has been continually changing since its founding over a century ago. Over the next 10 years and beyond, we expect that the campus will continue to evolve with new buildings, infrastructure and landscapes. The staff of the Aboretum and Grounds will both be integral partners in making long-term plans to ensure the continued health and vitality of our tree canopy and natural landscapes. The Arboretum encompases 750 acres, including the landscaped main campus and natural areas. The Arboretum is used for teaching and recreation and is one of the most beloved parts of the College campus.
Learn more about the Arboretum.