The goal of creating a sustainable campus is something every student, faculty and staff member plays a part in. Whether its students turning off their lights, taking shorter showers, or unplugging their appliances; the groundskeepers using minimal chemical pesticides; student-run Goodrich Coffee Bar encouraging people to use reusable coffee cups; professors weaving in concepts of sustainability to their classes; or the changes being made to the hockey rink to cut energy usage – everyone can contribute to Williams reducing our carbon footprint and working to ensure that we can meet today’s needs without sacrificing the needs of future generations of students.
Born out of the college’s commitment to reduce emissions and to make sustainability an institutional priority, the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives was created in 2007. We work to make the college itself more sustainable while offering learning opportunities to the campus and larger community.
We work with Dining Services to increase our purchase of local and sustainable food. And to reduce our food waste. We work with Facilities to create an efficient and sustainable physical campus. We engage with students in a variety of ways and work to include sustainability in all the college’s decision-making.
The college is committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. The college first set an emissions goal in 2007, and we are well on track to reach that goal – 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. In September 2015, President Falk and the Trustees committed to further address climate change. These steps include reducing the college’s net greenhouse gas emissions to 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to achieve carbon neutrality by the end of 2020.
Class of 1966 Environmental Center
The Environmental Center, home of the Zilkha Center and the Center for Environmental Studies, was dedicated in April 2015 and is the first to seek Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification for a historic campus structure. Built in 1794 and home to the first four college presidents, historic Kellogg House must successfully pass through a performance year when it operates at net-zero energy and net-zero water to achieve LBC status. Currently only 8 buildings have been certified as LBC.
The Zilkha Center works with students in a number of ways. A few opportunities that are student favorites are Winter Blitz, Eco Advisors, summer internships, and the first-year EphVenture program ROOT.
Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Community
The operational and educational sustainability work that happens on campus is just the beginning for students who give back in the greater Williamstown community. Two community projects that the Zilkha Center participates in are Winter Blitz, a student-organized home weatherization program, and the Williamstown COOL Committee, a citizen’s committee that works to reduce emissions in the town.
The college has worked with a solar developer to install over 600 kW of solar electricity on campus and on neighboring college property. Most are on rooftops and are difficult to see, so come to the Environmental Center to view a few different types of solar installations.
Waste & Recycling
In an effort to reduce waste and improve recycling on campus, the Zilkha Center facilitates a Waste & Recycling Working Group that brings together staff from Facilities, Dining Services, and interested students, staff, and faculty. The group has most recently been working to improve signage, update the Recycling Guide and to increase the number of dish return bins on campus.