Environmental and Sustainability Policy

Statement of Commitment to the Environment
Prepared by Environmental Council, endorsed by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees in May 1995

"Middlebury College is committed to environmental mindfulness and stewardship in all its activities. This commitment arises from a sense of concerned citizenship and moral duty and from a desire to teach and lead by example. The College gives a high priority to integrating environmental awareness and responsibility into the daily life of the institution. Respect and care for the environment, sustainable living, and intergenerational responsibility are among the fundamental values that guide planning, decision-making, and procedures. All individuals in this academic community have personal responsibility for the way their actions affect the local and global environment."

Guiding Principles in Sustainability

The values laid out above are systemic to the vision and operation of Middlebury College and it continues to be a leader in the area of sustainability. As architect and designer William McDonough describes, a sustainable world is one that is ““delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just - with clean air, soil, water and power - economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed” and this is the type of future we hope to create and encourage at Middlebury. Striving for sustainability challenges us to address complex problems, both in the curriculum and in our life as citizens in a globalized world. In order to move toward sustainability we must consider:

  • Teaching ourselves—and learning from each other—how to move towards sustainable lifestyles;
  • Making ethical and just decisions about production, exchange and consumption
  • Reaching decisions, in a democratic spirit, that help us advance sustainability in a complex and globalized world;
  • Meeting present and future human needs while protecting and restoring ecological resilience and integrity;
  • Caring for the community of life on earth; and
  • Actively promoting sustainability goals and sharing the successes and lessons learned at Middlebury with other institutions and individuals.

Sustainability Objectives at Middlebury College

As a College we are committed to achieving our sustainability goals through how and what we teach, how we operate, open dialogue, carefully considered risk, and learning from our successes and failures. Our specific objectives are:

  • achieving and maintaining carbon neutrality by 2016 through conservation and efficient use of energy, renewable resources, and, as a last resort, purchasing carbon offsets;
  • assessing and improving our environmental, economic and social performance with tools that provide a useful measure of progress toward ecological resilience, economic prosperity, and social equity;
  • integrating environmental concerns and sustainable development principles into all planning and design decisions, which includes evaluating entire life cycles of products (e.g. the energy, source, and type of materials used in manufacturing and use);
  • including consideration of sustainability in the maintenance and management of our infrastructure and lands;
  • working towards a campus and region that provide convenient public mobility and less reliance on single occupant automobiles;
  • making environmental, socially equitable, and fiscally responsible purchasing choices;
  • supporting the local economy and community through sustainability education, purchasing, further development of local food production capacity and provisioning, and other College operations;
  • encouraging and facilitating research on sustainability while maintaining support for existing campus sustainability programs;
  • supporting initiatives of students, faculty, and staff to achieve our goals;
  • ensuring that academic, co-curricular and institutional training programs enable students and employees to develop a sustainability ethic with a perspective on the connections between local actions and global consequences;
  • utilizing the extended Middlebury network around the globe to build vibrant communities of people who are informed and actively engaged in solving the ecological, economic, and social challenges of their communities; and
  • challenging every College member to
    • bring their sustainability values into other communities to which they belong, through activities including teaching, learning, working, research, and discussion; and
    • respect nature, contribute to human society and the intricate interrelationships on which our lives depend.