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Press Release

Bard College Focuses its Green Campus Initiatives

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––As part of ongoing “green” initiatives at Bard College, president Leon Botstein signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2008, along with more than 600 academic leaders. Botstein pledged that Bard would address the global climate crisis by shrinking its carbon footprint and integrating sustainability into the curricula. During 2008, Bard completed a comprehensive inventory of its annual greenhouse gas emissions on all College-owned properties, including Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College. The results of this extensive study have been key in drafting the College’s climate action plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

Energy efficiency and “green” building practices are a large part of Bard’s climate action plan. More than 25 campus buildings—including New Robbins, which meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating for high-energy performance; the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts; Alumni/ae Dormitories; and The Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for Science and Computation—utilize geothermal heating and cooling systems and burn no on-site fossil fuels. Bard has also been awarded two grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—to upgrade energy efficiency at the Stevenson Gymnasium and to install solar thermal panels for hot water on Tremblay and Keene residential halls. The College is currently pursuing financing for additional projects that will reduce its annual energy consumption by an estimated 16 percent.

Bard’s comprehensive climate plan includes  “greening” its transportation fleet as well as new campus policies that encourage walking, biking, or taking the shuttle instead of driving. The U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities program granted $129,000 to Bard, with the College matching $181,000, to add a hybrid diesel shuttle, two electric utility vans, and two Prius hybrid sedans to its on-campus fleet. The Buildings and Grounds Department uses an electric cart. Four electric bikes are available: one dedicated to the security staff, one for staff, and two as loaners for students, faculty, and staff.

Other examples of measures Bard has implemented to reduce water, paper, and energy consumption on campus include low-to-no irrigation horticulture, with an emphasis on local and native planting; and paperless and direct deposit payroll, which saves at least 1.5 pounds of paper, 14 gallons of water, and 14.8 gallons of fuel per person per year. More than a thousand compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) have been handed out to students, faculty, and staff in exchange for incandescent bulbs over the past two years. The CFLs consume about a quarter of the energy of a traditional bulb and last an average of four years.

In addition to the Bard Center for Environmental Policy master’s degree program, Bard College’s undergraduate curriculum offers a concentration in environmental and urban studies and several science-based courses on environment and sustainability, including Biology Program courses “Biodiversity,” “Ecology and Evolution,” and “Aquatic Ecology;” and a Physics Program course, “Climate Change,” which explores the physical principles underlying climate change. Students in “The Planetary Consequences of Dietary Choices,” a course taught by Gidon Eshel, Bard Center Fellow in environmental studies, will build an experimental greenhouse next semester that is designed to sustain hardy local produce year-round with zero carbon emissions.

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This event was last updated on 12-23-2009