Centre receives supplemental EPA funding to continue sustainability efforts

Posted by Centre News in News, Sustainable Centre 10 Jan 2014

Sustainability is an increasing priority for Centre College, as evidenced by the many projects, buildings and initiatives undertaken in the last decade to reduce carbon emissions and plan for an energy-efficient future. With supplemental funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centre is poised to solidify and strengthen its newest sustainability initiatives.

The EPA funding was awarded in mid-November and supplements an earlier award of $25,000 that purchased and installed a composter for the Campus Center in fall 2013. The original award of $25,000 also sponsored faculty workshops and stipends for incorporating sustainability into curricula. The entire project has been supported by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Interdisciplinary Environmental Sustainability Across All Curricula program (FEIN 00D06912-0).

The recent supplemental EPA funding provides $12,000 for additional supplies necessary to maintain and service the composter, as well as funding for expanded sustainability workshops for Centre faculty and staff. A component of this supplemental funding is allotted for campus signage to increase visibility and awareness of the many sustainability initiatives already in place.

“This signage, in addition to the staff workshops, is a way to show that sustainability is not just an academic enterprise,” says John C. Walkup Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee Preston Miles. “All employees need to know how to incorporate sustainability into what they do.”

While decisions regarding the exact placement of signage have not been made, various different ideas are currently in discussion.

“I’d love to see signs that let people know about the various energy-saving sensors we have around campus,” says Miles. “Sensors in housekeeping closets turn lights off after the door is closed; sensors on vending machines turn them off when no one is around; and sensors in classrooms turn off lights and reduce heating or cooling when unoccupied. We could also have signs that explain our campus garden and our composters.”

Wherever the signs end up, they will go a long way to improve the visibility of sustainability on campus, which can be problematic; for example, the composters are behind the Campus Center and unseen by the general public. In a similar fashion, the geothermal wells that heat and cool Pearl Hall and Brockman Commons are underground and unseen.

“A fourth of our student body is new to Centre every year,” Miles explains. “They don’t know about some of these unseen things, like our involvement with the Mother Ann Lee hydroelectric dam or our geothermal wells. These signs are a way to keep these things visible and present at all times.

“Centre teaches all of us, employees and students, in a variety of ways,” he adds. “Directly, through courses and policies, but also indirectly, with our facilities and how we operate them. These signs are a way to keep reminding each other that sustainability is a combination of personal decisions and institutional initiatives.”

Learn more about Sustainability at Centre.

By Mariel Smith