Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's the little actions that make a difference...

In order to achieve our sustainability goals, we need everyone doing both big and little things.  The big things include our heating plant upgrade, renovating our buildings to achieve LEED certification, advancing sustainability in our curriculum, operating our campus compost facility, and running our 0.5 acre community vegetable garden.  The little things include turning lights off in unoccupied rooms, taking shorter showers, eating more healthy and locally produced food, and recycling.  The cumulative result of hundreds of Colgate community members doing small actions makes a big difference.  This is a big reason why the university has significantly reduced our energy consumption, water use, landfill waste, and paper use over the past few years.

Maureen McKinnon (Senior AA to the VP for Finance and Administration), for example, is helping to reduce our waste stream by taking one small action.  Whenever Maureen has work done through our Print Shop, she receives the copies in a cardboard box wrapped in twine.  After removing the contents, Maureen folds the box and sends it back to the Print Shop for reuse.  This saves the Print Shop money in materials, energy to cut and process trees to make the boxes, and fuel and carbon emissions to deliver them to campus.  Imagine if we all took small actions such as this!

Even the birds appreciate Maureen's effort as she takes the twine home because the birds will use it this spring for building their nests.

Thank you Maureen!

Let us know the big and little things you do to advance sustainability on campus!
Email: sustainability@colgate.edu.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

In Love with LED Lighting

Sometimes being ‘green’ is as easy as changing a light bulb. Recently, our Buildings and Grounds team replaced sixty 250-watt and eighteen 100-watt incandescent bulbs from Love Auditorium and replaced them with seventy-eight 20-watt energy efficient LED lights. The LED lights cost about $3,500.  The project was refunded $2,000 from the Hamilton Coop Electric. So, overall the project cost Colgate about $1,500 plus the cost of labor.

Warrick Dunn addressing Raider Nation in Love Auditorium
This lighting upgrade will reduce energy consumption by about 420,000 kWh a year.  At $0.041 per kWh this will save Colgate approximately $17,500 a year in electricity costs. It is also important to note that changing a light bulb is easy, but changing 78 light bulbs in a high auditorium ceiling is a much more daunting task. So, we would like to acknowledge all of the work that went into making this project possible and thank our electric shop including Ted Kowalski, Jim Ayers, Rob Bachman, and Jim Hall. The good news is that LED lights last for up to 50,000 hours. That is 42 times longer than a regular incandescent[1]. As a result, the lights will not have to be changed again for an estimated 8-10 years. This saves money and time related to labor.

Taken altogether, this project paid for itself in slightly over a month.

However, that is not the end of story. The reduction in kilowatt usage will reduce our campus carbon footprint by 25 tons. As Raider Nation knows, Colgate has signed a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2019 and a part of our Sustainability and Climate Action Plan involves investing in carbon offsets to reach neutrality. The less carbon we emit, the fewer offsets we will have to purchase in the future.

[1] Found at http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Solar energy is not only possible in Central New York, but it is already happening right here in Madison County.

The Solarize Madison project is a grassroots, community-led effort that streamlines the entire process of installing solar energy for the average homeowner in Madison County.  Besides walking residents through the solar installation process, the cost of solar is significantly lowered through group purchasing.  The goal of Solarize Madison is to bring at least 15 solar photovoltaic and 20 solar thermal (hot water) installations to the county.  Early adopters are taking advantage of the opportunity and many of the instillations have already been put in place and have received strong positive feedback.

Bruce Moseley, Associate Director of Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations, is one of those early adopters. Bruce researched different types of alternative energy sources, including wind, but decided that they were not right for his home. However, when he heard about Solarize Madison he thought “Let’s do it!’

In addition to incentives from New York State, Bruce received a grant for $2,000 from Solarize Madison for being one of the first 15 participants and will also receive additional tax credits. He estimates there is about a 6-7 year payback period, but he can already see the savings happening.

Bruce clarifies that getting solar panels for most households does not make them independent of the energy grid. Instead, the solar power supplements the energy they need to pull from the grid. Bruce’s panels generate about 3,000 of the 6,200 kWhs that his house uses, effectively cutting his electric bill in half. During daylight hours the meter can often be seen running backwards, even when high-energy use appliances, like the clothes dryer, are running. Bruce explains that all the information from the panels is displayed clearly by the panels operating software. Everything from number of trees saved to the efficiency and use of each panel can be displayed.  Bruce recently told his story to sustainability interns Amanda Griffiths ’13 and Jayne Tamboia ’13 and is now a part of the Office of Sustainability’s Podcast Series.  Visit the sustainability website to listen to the short podcast

In 2013 Solarize Madison will add solar thermal hot water systems to their program. If you want to learn more, check out the Solarize Madison website at www.solarizemadison.com.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


GOING SOMEWHERE COOL OVER BREAK? Or maybe you're just bored...


Monday, March 4, 2013


It’s that time of year again! Once again, Colgate is getting into the sustainable spirit by participating in Recyclemania! This intercollegiate competition encourages colleges and universities across the United States and Canada to increase the amount of materials they recycle and decrease the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. This year, the Colgate Eco-Reps threw a kick-off event in the Coop TV room to inform the campus about our goals for this year’s competition and to educate the Colgate Community about what can and cannot be recycled on campus. The event was extremely well attended, with over 80 people swinging by to sign recycling pledges to make a commitment to live more sustainably.

Additionally, throughout the month-long competition, the Recyclemaniac will be running around campus encouraging students to recycle everything they can. If you see the Recyclemaniac, get a picture with them and upload it to the Recyclemaniac Facebook! Better yet, get involved in the Recyclemania video contest! Create a 1-3 minute video that highlights the theme of “Recycling at Colgate.” It can be comedic or informational! Just upload it to YouTube and email the link to GreenRaiders@Colgate.edu! Grand prize is a $50 gift certificate to Hamilton Whole Foods and having your video displayed on the Colgate Homepage! Entries are due March 16th at midnight! Any questions can be directed to sdickinson@colgate.edu or jptaylor@colgate.edu. Stay green!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Colgate students participate in nation's largest ever climate rally

On President's Day 2013 (Feb 17), about 20 Colgate students and members of Colgate's Office of Sustainability headed to Washington, D.C. to join about 40,000 others in the largest rally ever against climate change. 
Photo by Jenna Pope

The purpose of the rally was threefold:
  • to show President Obama just how large and passionate and urgent the climate change movement has become
  • to urge the President to stop the Keystone XL pipeline
  • to get the President to set carbon limits for power plants
Colgate students left late Saturday evening arriving in D.C. in the morning with homemade protest signs in hand. The atmosphere was charged and the energy was high.  There was singing and drumbeats and chants and dancing and outbursts and music...

The rally officially began at noon.  Speakers included:
  • Michael Brune; Sierra Club Executive Director
  • Bill McKibben; 350.org President, Scholar at Middlebury College
  • Van Jones; Rebuild the Dream President, NYT Best-Selling Author
  • U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Rhode Island
  • Maria T. Cardona; Latinovations Founder, Dewey Square Group Principal
  • The Rev. Lennox Yearwood; Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO
  • Chief Jacqueline Thomas; Saik'uz First Nation
  • Crystal Lameman; Beaver Lake Cree First Nations

Michael Brune stated, "Tar sands oil is the most toxic fossil fuel on the planet. It leaves in its wake scarred landscapes and a web of pipelines and polluting refineries all the while delaying our transition to a clean energy economy." 

Bill McKibben followed, "I cannot promise you we’re going to win, but I’ve waited a quarter century to find out if we were gonna fight. And today, at the biggest climate rally by far, by far, by far, in U.S. history — today, I know we’re going to fight.

Van Jones' sentiment was repeated throughout the rally, "I think if you look at the status quo, the big polluters tend to win these fights. They’ve got the big money. They’ve got the big lobbyists and they tend to win these fights. And that’s why the people have to come out.

Senator Whitehouse agreed, "It sends a message to Congress that we’re here, we care and this is an issue that matters. And it sends a message to the president to be strong and we’ll have your back."

The rally then left the Mall and 40,000 strong marched to the White House.
 Photo by John Pumilio

  Photo by John Pumilio

The State Department recently announced that it will be until late March before it finishes reviewing the case and makes a decision.  Students at Colgate and all across the country and planet will be watching closely.  In the meantime, Colgate students can be proud that they took a stand for committed action against climate change - something they believe is in our national best interest!

Monday, February 18, 2013


GateSwap is a safe, social, and sustainable way to buy and sell goods and services on college campuses. It is a free service that connects members of the Colgate community who might be looking to buy a new refrigerator, sell a poster or textbook, find a ride to the airport, or accomplish a range of other things by reaching out to fellow members of the university. Developed by Gabe Zetter and Rob Carroll, GateSwap is also a great way to promote reuse on campus and raise awareness about how to live sustainably at college! Check it out here: www.gateswap.com