POULTNEY, Vt., June 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Green Mountain College received the Second Nature Climate Leadership Award June 23 at the fifth annual Climate Leadership Summit of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in Washington, D.C.
Green Mountain College received the award for achieving climate neutrality this year. GMC, a 700-student liberal arts college in Vermont, is only the second college in the nation to reach this goal, and the first to do it through efficiency, adoption of clean energy, and purchase of quantifiable local carbon offsets. The College won the award in the baccalaureate college category.
President Paul Fonteyn and Provost William Throop received the award for Green Mountain at an awards ceremony held at George Washington University on Thursday.
"We are gratified to receive this award because it recognizes what an entire generation of students, faculty and staff have accomplished since the college declared its environmental mission in 1995," said President Fonteyn. "Climate neutrality is an important achievement, but we're already exploring ways to operate the College more efficiently and sustainably in the future."
This year Green Mountain College achieved climate neutrality using ACUPCC standards. Construction of a biomass plant, investment in energy efficiency projects, and an innovative partnership with the utility Central Vermont Public Service enabled the College reach this goal.
The College adopted an environmental liberal arts mission in 1995, and faculty created a 37-credit general education curriculum that focuses on teaching all students how to take responsibility for the health of their natural and social environments. In 2006, GMC became the first college in Vermont to sign the ACUPCC, embracing the challenge to accelerate the College's progress towards climate neutrality and sustainability.
GMC's first greenhouse gas inventory, completed in 2007, drew attention to the significant emissions from its #6 fuel oil heating plant. That year, students in an honors seminar explored alternatives and paid for a biomass feasibility study using their Student Campus Greening Fund. In 2008, President Fonteyn and the College's board of trustees, recognizing the foresight of these students, invested in the conversion of the heating plant into a combined heat and power system powered by woodchips. The plant opened in April 2010.
Simultaneously, the Campus Sustainability Council addressed transportation issues, thermal conservation and waste reduction. Over the past decade Green Mountain College has invested an average of $1.2 million per year in projects to improve its energy efficiency including window replacements, steam line upgrades, and lighting retrofits. The 2009 carbon inventory showed a 19.8% reduction in carbon emissions per student from the 2007 baseline.
Green Mountain College's climate action plan also called for purchasing carbon offsets in 2011 to achieve neutrality. The campus community looked for local offset projects that make a strong social and economic impact—the college chose to continue its five-year partnership with Central Vermont Public Service, which verified its offsets produced by Cow Power farm methane projects and retired them on the Chicago Climate Exchange. GMC acquired 31,000 MT of offsets, equaling an average of 5,000 MT of offsets per year for the last six years, almost double the number required to cover the CO2e emissions counted by the ACUPCC.
"A total of 677 higher education institutions have shown their commitment to climate neutrality through signing the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment," said Anthony D. Cortese, co-founder of Second Nature and co-organizer of the ACUPCC. "Green Mountain College has taken this challenge seriously—it is only the second signatory to actually reach climate neutrality. We're honoring the college for its vision in use of alternative energy, its conservation practices, and its overall culture of sustainability."
Founded in 1834, Green Mountain College is a private liberal arts institution with 800 undergraduate students that takes environmental sustainability as a unifying theme across the curriculum. GMC was named the nation's "Coolest School" in 2010 by Sierra magazine.
For more on the awards, see http://secondnaturebos.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/green-mountain-college-recognized-for-climate-leadership/.
For more on Second Nature, see http://secondnaturebos.wordpress.com/about-second-nature/.
SOURCE Green Mountain College