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February 10, 2009
Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications

Campus Greening at Green Mountain College a
Democratic Process

POULTNEY, VT—Students at Green Mountain College are frantically filling out applications and applying for financial aid. It’s a common scene on college campuses across the country as students look ahead to summer internships or graduate school. But in this case, a successful proposal will benefit future undergraduates at GMC more than the applicants themselves. These students are making their pitch to the 2009 GMC Campus Greening Fund, a program that puts campus environmental improvements in the hands of students.

The Campus Greening Fund is designed to put into action greening initiatives that increase environmental awareness and decrease the school’s ecological footprint. The program, which started in 2004, is funded through a $30 allocation from each student’s annual activity fee. Proposals are evaluated by a student committee and awards are based on a student vote.

“We review the proposals and help the students get feedback and advice from local community partners,” said senior Christina-Alexa Liakos, a co-director of the fund and one of five students on the committee. “We also coordinate with the campus facilities department and the land use committee to make sure the projects can be done in the most effective and timely manner. It’s green democracy in action.”

This year, eight projects were funded with $25,611 set aside for implementation. 2009 Greening Fund Projects include a campus ecolabel program, a green bike program, tree canopy restoration, and a planting program for fruit-bearing trees on the College’s Cerridwen Farm.

“Sustainability permeates our campus culture, so students really buy into having part of their activity fee go towards making environmental improvements,” said Amber Garrard, Green Mountain College’s sustainability coordinator. “The program shows that small investments can have big social benefits for the entire campus community.”

The Green Bike Program, proposed by project leaders Ian Sutherland, Amanda Matznick, and Rebecca Slutzky, will fund a dozen recycled bikes that can be checked out by students, faculty, and staff members with a Green Mountain College ID. "The vast majority of students use their cars to drive within a twenty minute radius of campus, a distance easily accessible by bicycle,” write the authors in their proposal. “By creating a green bike program, GMC is creating a way for students to replace automobile use with human powered bicycle transportation.”

An Earth Tub Restoration project will repair and restore two large composting bins located on Cerridwen Farm. The earth tubs convert much of the food waste from the College’s dining hall into compost for the 155-acre farm. The farm produces a high percentage of vegetables, meat, and dairy products for on-campus consumption. Senior Irene Holak heads up the Cerridwen Farm Tree Project. Funding will support purchase of fruit bearing plants and trees in locations approved by the land use committee. Possible varieties include apple and pear trees, blueberry bushes, and strawberry and raspberry plants.

The Low Flow Showerhead Project will replace the current 2.5 gallon per minute showerheads in residence halls with high efficiency 1.5 gallon per minute maximum showerheads. "They will use 40% less water per minute than the current system,” wrote project leader Ben Jankowski. “High efficiency showers will promote further investigation into other sustainable practices, such as low flush toilets and low flow sinks.”

The Green Mountain College Campus Greening Fund was one of three programs on North American campuses to receive a 2009 Sustainability Innovator Award from The Sustainable Endowments Institute. The institute publishes an online national report card designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example in their commitment to sustainability.

Green Mountain College is a four year liberal arts college that takes the environment as a unifying theme for its 850 undergraduates in 21 major programs of study. Founded in 1834, Green Mountain College is celebrating its 175th anniversary.


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