UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP16
The UNFCCC in Cancun was the 16th annual Conference of Parties (COP) among international representatives to discuss climate change and negotiate mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, finance, and forest policies. This conference served as an opportunity to experience climate negotiations first hand and to engage with other young people about building an international climate movement. During the Conference of Youth (COY), I presented a workshop on LULUCF/REDD+ forest policy to train youth delegates in lobbying on forest issues, organizing, and participating in youth forest actions during COP. My time in Mexico was spent building momentum around the international youth climate movement, lobbying U.S. and foreign politicians to commit to a fair, ambitious, and legally binding climate agreement, as well as lead and organize youth forest policy.
COP16 served as a remarkable experience not only to observe the workings of international climate policy negotiations, but also to participate as a member of the international youth delegation. As an Environmental Studies major, this opportunity was both a learning experience in international climate policy and a way for me to interact with other young people and have face-to-face discussions about the issues. By attending the COP16 conference, I successfully gained an expanded understanding of and personal connection to international climate policy. Over the course of three weeks, I learned about and tracked policy developments, constructed policy recommendations, staged protests, created media attention, and worked with other young people committed to climate advocacy.
U.N. climate policy statements are wonky, inaccessible and deliberately obscure. Through my conversations, writing, and research that took place leading up to, during, and after my time in Mexico, I expanded my understanding of the different perspectives that must be considered when making a consensus climate treaty. I kept a blog to collect ideas, opinions, information, and articles about the UNFCCC and climate change legislation. In Cancun, I tried to talk to as many young people as I could and listen to their narratives about how climate change is affecting them and how their communities are organizing.
My particular focuses in the delegation were forest issues and Indigenous rights. Because REDD+ forest policy (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) was such an important policy at COP16, I helped to prepare the youth delegation in making an informed contribution to this issue. Forests play a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate. The clearing and logging of forests is responsible for at least 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The protection of forests from these activities is a crucial part of global efforts to secure a safe climate. I spearheaded a workshop during the Conference of Youth (COY) [in Cancun before the UNFCCC] that helped prepare united actions and directed lobbying during the COP. In Copenhagen, youth helped to improve the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) safeguards text for protecting Indigenous peoples’ rights and interests as well as protecting natural forests from conversion to plantations. In Cancun, the focus was on the urgent need for all countries to agree to the REDD safeguards that were developed last year and ensure developed countries do not secure the loopholes they want to hide emissions from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) activities. My role as a youth NGO delegate to the UNFCCC was to make sure the next deal helps to protect forests from destruction and safeguard Indigenous peoples’ rights.
Eco Entrepreneurship and Leadership Symposium
email@example.com or Box 2854 Middlebury College
Eco Entrepreneurship and Leadership: The Growing Influence of Inspired Environmentalists
Calling all creative thinkers and future entrepreneurs! Whether you plan to start your own business or bring innovation to your first job, learn how to find your niche in the growing green economy with five eco innovators’ secrets of success.
How is a commitment to sustainability compatible with large-scale business? How can environmentalism play into community activism? How will modern media and globalization further environmental initiatives? How can we inspire others to adopt green habits through entrepreneurship?
Learn all this and more with Denise Mari of Organic Avenue, Kalia Lydgate of the Marion Institute, Kyle Smitley of Barley and Birch, Robin Ingenthron of Good Point Recycling, and Gregor Barnum of 7th Generation. It all begins on Monday, January 16!
I think the symposium went very well. Everyone who came to the scheduled talks got a lot out of them. Unfortunately, Gregor Barnum had to cancel because of the stomach flu, but I am planning to reschedule him in the spring. About 20 people came to each talk, although only 4 people came to Robin Ingenthron's talk. In general, I would have liked for more people to have come to the talks, but overall, I think the symposium was a success! The organic, raw Atwater dinner was an especially big hit, with 100 attendees and rave reviews from all!
An Interior Bike Rack For Staff Who Work in Davis Family Library
Davis Library 135B
A bike rack was installed inside Davis Family Library in order to encourage employees to use their bicycles to commute to work. Those who routinely commute often invest significantly in their bikes and have indicated they would be more likely to routinely commute if they had a secure spot to park their bike that was protected from the elements. An Environmental Council Grant paid for the rack ($420.00) and LIS covered the cost of the installation.
The rack is new and the commuting season has just begun, so it's difficult to say how much more often staff will ride their bikes than they have in the past, but the feedback below from people who work in the building is encouraging.
“This rack is a fabulous resource for regular commuters as it allows us to ride in all weather without the rain soaking our seats and rusting our gears while we work. In the winter it allows ice build-up to thaw and dry for a safe ride home.”
“Ever since I saw that the bike rack had been installed, I’ve been thinking about my schedule and planning which days I will be able to ride to work once the weather is nice. I’m going to ride into Middlebury in the morning, leave my bike overnight and then ride it home the following day. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without this indoor rack because I would have worried my bike would be stolen.”
“Thanks for the bike rack! Now my butt won’t get soaked from a wet seat when it rains during the day!”
At a screening of Food Inc. we provided Stonyfield Farms Yogurt and Middlebury College Yogurt as a sustainable snack for all the viewers.
Yogurt was eaten, only to solidify the Film's message of raising food awareness
College Supported Agriculture
Dining will attempt to develop a supply relationship with a grower that encourages them to plant additional product solely for the use and benefit of Dining Services at Middlebury College. Our intention is to operate like a CSA where we would pre buy a share of the growers crop but we would be the sole benefactor of the growers harvest. While we would share in the bounty of the harvest if it were as good and perhaps better then we hoped; we would also bear the cost of a diminished harvest due to the ever changing growing conditions that affect production. We have agreed to purchase #150 of basil that we will produce into pesto that we will freeze and use throughout the year. We have also agreed to purchase #400 of tomatoes that we will produce inot marinara sauce that we will use during the year as well as #1000 of butternut squash that we will use during the fall.
We would establish an agreed upon price per pound for a given volume of product to be delivered within an agreed upon timefame that coincides with our staffs ability to process the product. We are committing to buy the entire crop as we are creating the demand for this particular velocity of product. In this instance the onus is placed on the grower to plant additional crops to meet our demand while comforted by the fact that we are going to take the entire crop to process it further. We have agreed upon a historical average proce that is acceptable to us both before the crop is even planted. We accept that the market price could fluctuate either way before the time of harvest but we are confident that we will receive a supperior product compared to market produce grown out of state. The grower would also be a shared partner in this system by agreeing to a "futures pricing" for this specific product befoe the plant is in the ground.
Putting Sustainability in the Curriculum and Advancing Institutional Progress Toward Implementing the Campus Sustentable Protocol
Jeff Stevenson: firstname.lastname@example.org
The week of June 6, 2011 we will host a two-day workshop sponsored by the Middlebury School in Chile, the Middlebury Sustainability Integration Office and the Chilean Ministry of the Environment for signatories of the Campus Sustentable Protocol (a commitment to make each signatory’s campus more sustainable). It has been signed by eight Chilean universities and the C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Latin America in Chile.
We will provide a two-day “train the trainers” workshop for teams from each of the participating universities and colleges. The teams will consist of at least one of each: faculty, administrator, student from each institution. The workshop will provide a process for taking a relevant sustainability related issue, need, or concern at the institution and to address that issue through revision of an existing course taught by the faculty member, or by creating a new one. For example a psychology professor might develop a course where students learn the principles of behavioral psychology and then apply them by developing a university wide campaign to reduce waste and increase recycling.
The workshops will be based on a successful model developed by the Sustainability Integration Office and the Program in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College with appropriate adaptation for the Chilean higher education system. Each of the revised courses will be taught and a case study about each of them will be developed and distributed along with the course descriptions and syllabi.
Sustainability Project List
To add your project log on with your Middlebury ID (under the left navigation bar) and then click here to add your project.
Old Courthouse Greenification Project
The members of the Communications Office have made a conscious effort to improve the number, variety, and vitality of the green plants in our office located in the Old Courthouse near the Middlebury Inn. We believe that green indoor plants clean the air of impurities, sequester carbon, and add oxygen to the environment. They also create a more pleasant working environment. With our "greenification project," we have started 15-20 plants from cuttings provided by Patti Padua (curator of the Bi Hall Greenhouse) and others. Via two Environmental Council grants, we now have a potting station in the basement of our building equipped with potting soil, vermiculite, and clay pots in a variety of sizes. We have shared our plants with others in this building and with interested students. Our project shows that with a small amount of start-up capital, sunlight, and some initiative, an office can be transformed from a drab space to a vital place brimming with plant life. We now have over 25 plants of at least 15 different varieties thriving in our office, including ferns, fuscia, philodenron, and even a coffee tree!
Race To Replace Vermont Yankee
As a committed group of young clean energy voters, the Race to Replace campaign cares about the future of Vermont. We want to ensure that Vermont Yankee is replaced with CLEAN, RENEWABLE sources of electricity. This is not a crazy dream: this is a foreseeable future and as young people we have the power to make it happen. Throughout this election season, we’re encouraging young people to take a stand and cast their ballot for a clean energy candidate who will ensure these goals.
We believe that energy for Vermont should come from Vermont, and that home-grown technologies like micro-hydro, wind, solar and biomass can achieve these goals. By taking responsibility for our energy future, we can reinforce Vermont's position as a clean energy leader while also strengthening our communities and local economy.
By engaging young people in the political process, we will mobilize a powerful part of our community and make sure that our elected leaders are held accountable come election day. Young voters all over Vermont need to stand together to demand the benefits of a clean energy future through their vote: good jobs, clean water and air, and a livable climate.
Our campaign is working throughout the state during the Spring, Summer and Fall campaigns to create a committed network for young clean energy voters. Our goal is to register 2,000 young voters in time for the general election in November, 2010.
We will work to put pressure on the Gubernatorial candidates through photo petitions, creative actions and voter registration and educational outreach.
"Environmentality" Table Tents
Rachel Callender (2010-2011 committee chair): email@example.com
We created monthly tabletop newsletters about environmental news on campus and tips to help students reduce their carbon footprints. This is a great communication tool to get students aware of on campus environmental initiatives.
We created 5 poster sets
Educational Signage for Middlebury's Pollinator Garden
Emily May: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Spring 2008, students installed a “pollinator garden” filled with perennial native plants designed to provide foraging and habitat resources for native pollinators (bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds) outside of Bicentennial Hall, with funding from an Environmental Council grant. The garden is an excellent demonstration project, but lacks the educational signage necessary to raise awareness about its nature and purpose. Such signs were created for this project so that the garden now serves not only as foraging ground for pollinators, but also as an educational resource for the campus community.
Middlebury Solar Decathlon
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a competition that challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
The Middlebury Solar Decathlon Team applied for and was accepted to this competition in April of 2010. We are a group of students who believe in the power of this competition to promote sustainable living, educate the students involved, as well as anyone else who learns of the project.
We hope to educate ourselves as well as our peers about cutting edge techniques for green home design. We also hope to present potential home owners with an affordable, practical, comfortable and attractive living option.
Green Reception for the 2010 Spring Student Symposium
The 2010 Spring Student Symposium was a campus-wide event on Friday, April 16, 2010. It was followed by a reception for over 350 people in the McCardell Bicentennial Great Hall. In the past, due to cost, the food was served on disposable products. In a continuing effort to make this year’s event as green as possible, the college committee on sustainability in catering was consulted and they recommended china be used instead of disposables. Due to a tight budget the Symposium committee applied for an Environmental Council Mini-grant for the $250 cost increase for using china over disposables.
The Symposium was a day of student research and creative presentations to the campus community. McCardell Bicentennial Hall was full and buzzing with activity throughout the day as students, faculty, and staff moved between presentations and attended the poster session.
The Symposium’s green efforts in 2010 included:
- Donating foam mounted posters from the Symposium to local school art programs to be reused.
- The program was printed in black ink only on white, 100% recycled paper.
- The days schedule was projected on monitors in the venues to reduce the need for programs.
- Lunch was served in the dining halls and Atwater to reduce cost and impact.
- Refreshments were served with biodegradable and corn based products.
Finally, at the end of day reception, taking a suggestion from the college committee on sustainability in catering, china was used instead of disposables. Due to budget restraints, the additional $250 cost for using china (for labor) over purchasing disposables would not have been possible if not for the generous mini-grant from the Environmental Council. Next year the committee will budget in the extra expense to continue this positive practice.
Lights Out Stickers
We put stickers on the light switches reminding students to turn the lights off when they are done. The stickers are 1”x2” vinyl decals, which are resistant to wear and water damage and read “Be BRIGHT turn OFF the LIGHT.” Some of the bathrooms and rooms on campus already have stickers encouraging students to turn off lights. However, they are not widespread at all, nor are they durable. Students do seem to notice them when they are there, so we believe that sending a more consistent message by having them in all bathrooms is more effective. The initial focus was on the bathrooms. We have yet to move to dorm rooms as a secondary objective with remaining stickers.
We now have decals in almost all of the dormitory bathrooms on campus reminding people to shut off the lights when they are finished.
Library bench, Class of 1860 plaque
The wooden bench in the foyer to the Davis Family library is made from the wood of the Class of 1860 spruce tree that used to be in front of the library. Sheridan helped get LIS connected to Alumni Affairs and Facilities to turn the wood from the tree (which was dying and needed to be cut down anyway) into a bench. The bench is complete but was not labeled. This project created a small sign, to be installed on the bench, telling this story. This project is an example of how part of the campus landscape can acquire new social value. It also demonstrates to alumni how Class Trees continue to be part of the campus.
The plaque is complete and being installed soon.
Incorporating Biodiesel from Microalgae: An Integrated Strategy for Wastewater Treatment and Carbon Dioxide Mitigation
Two years ago Bobby Levine, using grant money from the sustainability council, developed a detailed methodology to test the viability of the use of microalgae as a bio-fuel and wastewater treatment system. Despite Levine’s success to culture and extract lipid-derived bio-diesel from algae under strict experimental conditions, the project was unfortunately stunted upon his graduation.
In Levine’s thesis, he presents a comprehensive review of the impact on lipid productivity of Neochloris Oleoabundans, a strain of micro-algae, in response to the addition of macronutrients and chemical reagents. He essentially outlines the details and sensitivities of the organism to present guidelines to knowledgeable manipulation. The specifics of harvesting, chemical flocculation, centrifugation, lipid extraction of wet and dry algae biomass are the most critical to successful lipid production and therefore require great consideration according to Levine. To pick up where Levine was unable to continue certainly requires great familiarization with his laboratory procedure. Fortunately, Levine, over the past couple of weeks, has expressed great interest in counseling Jay Saper and myself in his methodology. With Bobby as a guide, we believe the intellectual work he presents in his thesis has great potential for development and implementation on the Middlebury College Campus. As engineering committee members of the Solar Decathlon team, we believe Levine’s work is highly relevant and could be appropriately implemented into the entirely carbon neutral house being designed and built by Middlebury students for an international competition in Washington D.C. in 2011.
Although extraction procedures required for the process are currently economically disadvantageous for full scale investment by Middlebury College, a smaller scale production and experimentation project could be an excellent opportunity for academic and practical advances in algal system design and implantation into a single home schematic. For this potential to become realized, familiarization with cell culture, feeding, extraction and bioreactor maintenance will be critical. We aim to, working closely with Levine and Professor Oster, improve Levine’s laboratory methodology, conduct the revised procedure and experimentation, and gain the knowledge to implement algal power into a viable heating schematic. The Solar Decathlon team aims to incorporate an algal power unit as the primary heating method while harmoniously complimenting the solar voltaic panels supplying the home’s electrical energy. Furthermore, algae are capable of NH4+ removal making them quality wastewater treatment candidates. Using microalgae for on site wastewater management increases the homes environmental sustainability and lowers its overall environmental impact. The algal system will also be employed to produce fertilizers for a vegetable garden using solid residues from the wet extraction procedure essential to producing the bio-diesel.
Algal power research has a long history. Bio-diesel power started early development in the 1940's but never gained enough national support because of the strong economic incentives of the coal and eventually petrol industries. Due to the ever-daunting environmental and economic crisis of the new century, lipid-producing algae have gained more attention. For example, Colorado State University in Fort Collins has created mid-size bioreactor and refinery experimentation project. The project researchers currently work to reduce the lipid extraction process. Solix ®, a collaborator with CSU, designs highly advanced bioreactors that feature advanced chemical exchange chambers needed for critical CO2 metabolic fixation. By purchasing a bioreactor system, revising Levine’s project, practicing distillation, wet extraction, dry extraction, undergoing lab-scale batch experimentation and generally becoming more familiar with the intricate details of photobioreactors, Jay and I plan to add a level of sophistication to the Solar Decathlon house that would otherwise be unattainable without the funding we seek.
Raised Bed Garden
4' x 12' (raised bed) perennial herb and fresh vegetable garden
Sustainability Pledge and Go Midd Go Green Bracelets
Students were offered a sustainability pledge in which they can pledge to decrease their waste by changing their actions. They were offered a choice between reducing water waste, food waste, electricity waste, and recycling more and they signed a paper leaf representing the commitment they made. They then received a free "Go Midd Go Green" bracelet that they wore as a reminder of the commitment to sustainability that they made.
Ecological and agroecological evaluation of college lands
The project is an assessment of the many ecological and agroecological values of the lands owned by Middlebury College. Examples of ecological values are rare species, exemplary natural communities, wetlands, and important wildlife habitat. Examples of agroecological values are landscape heterogeneity provided by fallow lands and hedgerows, buffers between fields and waters/wetlands/natural areas, and connecting habitats (hedgerows,unmowed swales).
A GIS database has been created to allow for mapping, visualization, and analysis of the project findings.
Occupancy Censor Lighting in the MCFA
EC grant funds were used to install occupancy sensors for lighting control in various spaces at the MCFA. Using wireless technology, an occupancy sensor detects when someone enters the room and automatically turns on the lights. On the flip side, when motion has not been detected for a certain amount of time, the lights automatically go off. In this project, we focused on putting occupancy sensors in the bathrooms and music practice rooms.
This December, Mike Wakefield (a College electrician) began the process of installing 16 occupancy sensor lighting controls in various rooms in the MCFA. It took approximately one month to do the installations, and the sensors are now fully operational. As planned, the sensors were installed in the bathrooms and all of the music practice rooms. The EC grant covered the majority of the expenses, with the remaining costs paid for by an incentive grant from Efficiency Vermont (secured by George McPhail), and Facilities Management and the MCFA operational projects budget.
Improving the energy efficiency of the MCFA is a substantial undertaking, but every project that brings us closer to that goal is important. Financial assistance and support from the Environmental Council is greatly appreciated.
Peggy Burns, ACE Office, email@example.com
MAlt Dominica participants did hands-on work on two organic farms located on the rugged Southeast Coast of Dominica, learning about sustainable agricultural practices directly from the local farmers. Participants also volunteered at the Morne Jaune Primary School, building and cultivating an educational garden and leading Arts & Crafts and Sports after-school activities for the students.
The primary focuses of the project are sustainable agriculture and education, so our time on island was spent learning about the challenges and successes of the production process on organic farms throughout the Caribbean and transferring that knowledge to the wider community through the young, receptive primary school students.
Increasing local foods in our dining rooms
Matthew Biette, Director of Dining, Middlebury College, FIC - Hamlin, Middlebury, VT 05753
Bo Cleveland, Executive Chef, Dining Services, Middlebury College, FIC -Hamlin, Middlebury, VT 05753
Dining Services spends an average of 25% of its food budget annually on Vermont grown/produced foods. Harvest season (late summer and early fall) are the easiest times to source these foods. The winter is perhaps the most difficult time. With the Environmental Grant, we were able to look at items normally out of our price range. We purchased heirloom potatoes and locally made pasta with these monies - the grants were used as the "extra" money to make up the gap from commercially available products.
We originally tried to get a locally manufactured cream cheese product - this was a cream cheese and yogurt spread. Though the product was made locally there were too many additives and the public acceptance was less than stellar. We changed our focus to locally grown potatoes and pasta - an easier "win" for the tastes of our students.
Middlebury College Weather Station
The weather station installed at Dragone Track measures temperature, relative humidity, wind, rainfall, and barometric pressure, as well as soil temperature, leaf wetness, UV radiation, and soil moisture. It has multiple applications on including Integrated Pest Management, irrigation, and snow removal on campus, as well as useful data for classroom research and for local farmers.
MEAL- Middlebury Eats All Local
In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, lead healthier lives, and provide an educational opportunity for the wider community, Weybridge House has made the decision to eat an all-local diet (Vermont products or food produced within a 100-mile radius of Middlebury) through the 2009-10 academic year. To help in the process they applied for an EC grant to purchase an additional freezer and a food dehydrator. Given the success of the 2009-2019 local eating project, Weybridge applied for another EC grant to fund a Food Preservation internship for summer 2010. Two Weybridge members will get paid to stay on campus for the month of August and preserve all of Weybridge's food.
This project has been very successful so far! Weybridge gained recognition from the Campus Sustainability Consortium and has been networking with similar houses at other schools.
The true mark of success, however, is that the house decided to continue the project for the 2010-2011 school year.
First-Year Counselors take a sustainable trek across campus
October 1, 2009
Before classes started this fall, thirty First Year Counselors (FYC's) got a first hand look at some of the accomplishments that make Middlebury a leader in sustainability. This sustainability tour was an initiative led by junior Kate Lupo with support from the Sustainability Integration Office, Facilities Services, and the Student Government Association's Environmental Affairs Committee. Students visited the Biomass Gasification Facility, the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest, the Materials Recovery Facility, and the Middlebury College Organic Garden.
The tour began at the College's new biomass gasification system, which uses wood chips to produce steam and electricity to heat and power the campus. The FYC's learned about role this new heating system plays in Middlebury's commitment to reach carbon neutrality.
Next the FYC's walked to the Franklin Environmental Center where they were introduced to the many green features that qualified the building for Platinum certification by the US Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The FYC's learned about the use of local materials, deconstruction and recycling of a building, energy conservation through design for daylighting and passive solar, geothermal systems, and how to construct a well insulated building.
From there, the group continued to the Materials Recovery Facility for a firsthand look at where the College's waste and recycling is processed. Middlebury's recycling rate this year was a record breaking 65%. The FYC's learned how to sort their own waste in their dorms, and learned how paper, glass, tin, plastic, food scraps and other materials are sorted, baled, and processed into recycling, compost, and trash.
The last point on the tour was the Middlebury College Organic Garden, which was in full harvest mode for the fall season. Garden Manager, Jay Leshinsky, talked about how to get involved with the garden and pointed out the many varieties of plants. There were some tasty cherry tomatoes to sample and lots of root vegetables ready to be picked. The garden was also full of fall flowers and a few of them went home to brighten up the rooms of the FYC tour takers.
To encourage others to trek down to the recycling center or over to the biomass plant, the SGA Environmental Affairs Committee put together goodie bags with recycled plastic pens, coupons for a free item from the reuse trailer, and green living tips to promote the tour.
SGA Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Office will be working together to ensure that Sustainability Tours become an important part of orientations for regular and feb freshmen students. They will also explore the possibility of working with the admissions office to provide tours to prospective students.
Power Shift 2009
September 2007, 90 Middlebury College students traveled to Washington DC to join 3,000 college students from across the nation in the first major youth climate conference of its kind. Students returned to campus inspired and motivated to continue the momentum of this historical gathering, organizing the Vermont Powershift conference in the spring of 2008 and empowering the next wave of student leaders to be a guiding force in the push for climate solutions. This year, between February 27th and March 2nd, more than 140 Middlebury students will join over 10,000 college students from across the nation and around the globe to build upon this momentum and inspire a new, more powerful wave of youth climate activism as our nation is redefined by our new administration and our role in the global climate movement is reassessed at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December of this year.
February 27th to March 2nd, 2009 Middlebury students joined thousands of young climate activists for Power Shift in Washington DC. Participants held a rally on the capital steps and met with elected officials from all 50 states, urging congress to support renewable, clean energy and other initiatives to address climate change. Middlebury had one of the largest groups of students from any school in the nation with 195 students.