Mahaney Center for the Arts Goes Green

In keeping with the College’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the Mahaney Center for the Arts (MCA) has made many changes to lessen the Arts’ resource footprint over the past several years.


 artscalcover0910All major Arts publications, including the Arts Calendar, the Arts at Middlebury Newsletter, Performing Arts Series programs, and posters are now printed on environmentally-friendly paper. The Mohawk Options paper is 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, process chlorine free, and manufactured with wind power. The environmental savings over the course of one year are impressive: over 72 trees, 30,000 gallons of wastewater, and 51,000,000 BTUs of energy.

We’re also tracking the distribution of our publications carefully, and making sure we only order what we’ll use. Rather than sending publications to everyone on campus, we now send paper publications only to those who have bought a ticket or otherwise expressed an interest in the arts. Many of our patrons have already made the switch to our electronic mailing list; our weekly email blast, “ArtsMail,” was redesigned in fall 2008 and now has over 4,500 subscribers. Would you like to join a mailing list or switch from paper to electronic? Send us an email here.



The MCA has always observed the College’s standard recycling policies. But in 2006, with help from an Environmental Council grant, we purchased special recycling cans (pictured) for each performance space, to encourage audience members to recycle their unwanted programs after the show. The cans’ design echoes the look of the recent Recyclemania campaign on campus, so they also help raise awareness of Middlebury’s commitment to environmental excellence.


Task lighting in several locations was refitted with compact fluorescent bulbs to save energy.In 2007, a new solar-powered light was installed on the eastern face of the MCA to light the exterior ARTS banner in the evenings. An Environmental Council Sustainability grant supported the solar light project.

Occupancy Sensors

In fall 2009, the MCA was awarded an environmental council grant to install occupancy sensors in practice rooms, restrooms, and corridors. A recent energy audit suggested that the sensors would pay for themselves and start saving energy expenses within two years.


Indoor Greenscape

In spring 2012, the MCA was awarded an environmental council grant to add more than a dozen indoor plants to the "greenscape" of the lobbies. These new plants help scrub the air, absorb carbon dioxide, and add to the natural beauty of our space. We chose low-maintenance varieties of plants to conserve resources.


Do Your Part

We're encouraging our patrons to help us "go green" by considering these strategies:
  • Carpool when attending arts events

  • Share a program with a friend, and recycle it after the event

  • Pick up your tickets at the box office, instead of having them mailed

  • Let us know if there are any problems with your mailing address, or if you’d prefer to be on our electronic mailing list instead.


Do you have ideas for other ways the Mahaney Center for the Arts can “go green”?

Contact Liza Sacheli at 802-443-3169 or



Environmental Council

1. Purposes

To promote environmental awareness among faculty, staff, and students.

b. To make policy recommendations to the president of the College designed to:

i. ensure a safe and healthy environment for all who live and work on the College campus.

ii. promote environmentally sound ecological (air, land, and water) stewardship practices.

iii. promote throughout the College community conservation of resources, energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, pollution prevention, increased reliance on renewable resources, and other measures consistent with sustainable living.

iv. further long-range environmental planning by the College.

v. assist the College in carrying out its civic responsibilities in the area of the environment.

c. oversee a biannual College-wide assessment process to ensure strong environmental performance and share the assessment with members of the College community.

d. encourage faculty to provide students opportunities within the framework of academic courses to conduct research on campus and local environmental issues; and to ensure that such research is shared with the Environmental Council and appropriate officials within and outside the College so that it can be used to formulate improved policies and programs.

e. design and coordinate environmental programs on campus as directed by the president.

2. Membership

Members are appointed to the Environmental Council as follows (continuing membership is encouraged):

a. Dean of Environmental Affairs will appoint a chair person or two co-chairs.

b. Director of Sustainability Integration Office will automatically be vice chair and project coordinator.

c. At least seven student representatives will be selected by the Office of Sustainability Integration by the beginning of the fall semester drawn from a pool of students who respond to a call for membership made to all students prior to the beginning of Fall semester. If replacements are needed in the spring this process will be repeated. The Student Government Association may also provide an at-large member of its Environmental Affairs Committee to sit on the Environmental Council.

d. Three or four staff representatives will be appointed by the Staff Council during the summer. The Environmental Council will supply the Staff Council with selection criteria and recommendations and staff will apply to the Staff Council during the summer.

e. Three or four faculty representatives will be appointed by the Faculty Council acting as Committee on Committees in part of the regular faculty committee appointment process. The Environmental Council will supply the Faculty Council with selection criteria and recommendations.

f.  Members of the town community, or alumni, may be appointed to subcommittees in an advisory capacity on an as-needed basis.

Members are expected to attend Environmental Council meetings on a regular basis and actively participate on one or more subcommittees.  Inactive members will be replaced.

<update 17-Mar-2010; wording modified to reflect revised policy approved by Environmental Council; rev. 8/12/15>

Jack Byrne

Sustainability, Greening the Campus, Carbon Neutrality

Director of Sustainability Integration


Middlebury College's Commitment to Carbon Reduction

Endorsed by the Trustees on May 8, 2004


In recognition that:

The Environment is a Peak of Excellence.
Environmental education and sustainable practices are continuing traditions that radiate throughout and beyond this institution.  Environmental Studies, one of the largest majors, draws some of the most committed environmental thinkers to its undergraduate program.  Campus sustainability initiatives from recycling to composting to sustainable design and construction bring constant acclaim to the institution while integrating environmental awareness and responsibility into the daily life of the institution.  Middlebury is in a respected position to share this expertise and infuse ideas for environmental excellence amongst our campus community and alumni, peer institutions, and the professionals with whom we work.

"Everything we do is an opportunity to educate."(1)
The solutions to global warming and climate change require innovative thinking within a global and local context.  Middlebury College is positioned, through its academic and institutional strengths, to rise to this challenge by applying the collective motivated intellects of its students, faculty, staff, administration, governing body, and graduates.  The shift away from a worldwide fossil fuel based economy will require the best of the liberal arts tradition.

Responsible leadership is a guiding principle of Middlebury College.
The College "expects its graduates to be thoughtful, ethical leaders able to meet the challenges of informed citizenship.  They should be independent thinkers, committed to service, with the courage to follow their convictions and prepared to accept responsibility for their actions."(2) If ever there has been a call for leadership, it is now.  Carbon reduction must be a goal in every planning process to ensure a broader articulation of risks and opportunities and enabling more informed decisions for the College's future within the context of climate change.

The College burns significant quantities of fossil fuels.
In 2000-2001, the College consumed 1.7 million gallons of #6 oil, 390.5 thousand gallons of #2 oil, 71.5 thousand gallons of diesel, 70 thousand gallons of gasoline, and 22.6 million KWH of electricity.  A greenhouse gas emissions inventory calculating the impact from heating and cooling, electricity use, transportation, and solid waste disposal identified that 35,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were emitted to the atmosphere from campus operations in FY 00-01.

The College is preparing to replace a boiler.
Three quarters of the College's carbon emissions are the result of space heating and cooling.  Fossil fuel use is not sustainable.  A new boiler has an average life of forty years and the College's boilers were installed in 1963, 1968, 1985, and 1998.  Reliable technology incorporating renewable and cleaner energy sources available in Vermont and domestically offer opportunities to significantly decrease the College's contribution to global warming.

The New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP) have called on institutions of higher learning to respond and provide models for meeting the unprecedented and imminent challenge of global warming. 
The NEG/ECP developed a Climate Change Action Plan (Plan) in 2001 that commits these states and provinces to reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% below 1990 emissions by 2020. They have asked colleges and universities to lead the way by signing on to the broad goals of the Plan and to work within their own institutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2012.  In August 2003, President McCardell signed a voluntary pledge committing Middlebury College to support the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in meeting the goals of its Plan.  Middlebury's Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group believes that the voluntary goal is realistically attainable and a responsible pursuit.

Immediate and longer-term strategies exist for carbon reduction.
Students in Winter Term class ES 010 "The Scientific and Institutional Challenges of Becoming Carbon Neutral" created a 200-page report summarizing fifty strategies to minimize campus climate impact.  The Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group synthesized a sub-group of these and other strategies into an initial carbon reduction portfolio that will target heating and cooling, electricity use, transportation, the generation of waste, and offsets and sequestration.

Long-term sustainability is a wise investment
In developing strategies for reducing carbon emissions, the College commits to investing in a portfolio that, when considered as a whole, is cost neutral including capital costs.

The Trustees of Middlebury College therefore support carbon reduction as a priority of the Middlebury College community, recognizing that it will require a commitment of resources to achieve necessary technological and behavioral shifts.

We join with the College's administration, students, faculty, staff, and alumni in the dedication of intellectual and fiscal capital to responsibly engage in this paradigm shift away from our fossil fuel dependency.

We endorse the College's Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group's initial target goal of reducing College greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels by 2012, adjusted on a student (per capita) basis, and recognize that at present levels of energy use, this will require attaining carbon emission levels 35% below FY 00-01 levels by 2012.  We believe in our call to leadership and charge the College with developing a sound plan for attaining this or greater levels of carbon reduction, integrating a series of strategies that ultimately advance sustainability for this institution and our planet.

(1) President John M. McCardell, Jr.
(2) Excerpt from Middlebury College Mission Statement


Resolution on Achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2016

adopted by Trustees May 5, 2007

Whereas Middlebury College has committed itself to integrating environmental stewardship into both its curriculum and its practices on campus. (Mission Statement, 2006), and

Whereas Middlebury College has committed itself to leadership in environmental sustainability by providing an exemplary education that incorporates scholarship, research, and applied experience spanning from local to global issues, and preparing its students for a world in which environmental issues are embedded in every decision. (Knowledge Without Boundaries: The Middlebury College Strategic Plan, p.56), and

Whereas Middlebury College has previously recognized the threat posed by climate change and that the College is positioned, through its academic and institutional strengths, to rise to this challenge by applying the collective motivated intellects of its students, faculty, staff, administration, governing body, and graduates.  The shift away from a worldwide fossil fuel based economy will require the best of the liberal arts tradition. (Middlebury College’s Commitment to Carbon Reduction, 2004), and

Whereas Middlebury College was one of the earliest academic institutions in the United States to set a specific goal and timeline for reduction of global warming pollution when it adopted a resolution endorsing the College’s Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group’s recommendation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels by 2012, adjusted on a student (per capita) basis, and recognizing that at then levels of energy use would require attaining carbon emission levels 35% below FY 00-01 levels by 2012, and

Whereas the diligent efforts of the administration, staff, faculty and students have resulted in reductions of global warming pollution that puts the College on track to meet its 2012 reduction goals, and

Whereas Middlebury College recognizes the broad consensus within the international scientific community that there is an urgent need to significantly reduce the amount of global warming pollution in the earth’s atmosphere to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change, and

Whereas, at the Trustees’ request, a Carbon Neutrality Initiative Task Force comprised of students, faculty and staff was formed to review a proposal from MiddShift entitled “ A Proposal for Carbon Neutrality at Middlebury College” outlining a plan to eliminate the College’s net carbon emissions by 2016, and

Whereas the Carbon Neutrality Initiative Task Force has done that review and concluded that a goal of carbon neutrality for Middlebury College by 2016, while challenging, is feasible through energy conservation and efficiency, renewable fuel sources, technology innovations, educational programming and learning, and offset purchases after all other feasible measures have been taken, and

Whereas over 1,250 signatures representing 70 different departments, teams, clubs, residences and individuals have endorsed the College’s carbon neutrality goal and are committed to reducing their personal energy use.

Be it therefore resolved that:

the Trustees of Middlebury College support a goal of carbon neutrality by 2016 for the College’s Vermont Campus as a priority of the Middlebury College community, recognizing that achievement of the goal will require a commitment of resources to achieve necessary technological and behavioral shifts; and

We believe the College should take a leadership stance on carbon neutrality and should build and expand upon the strategies it has in place to attain carbon neutrality and take further actions to develop and implement sound strategies that ultimately advance sustainability for this institution and our planet.

approved May 5, 2007

Middlebury awards Fellowships in Environmental Journalism for 2009

Administrators of the Middlebury College Fellowships in Environmental Journalism recently announced 10 fellowship recipients for 2009. The program, in its third year, is designed to support intensive, year-long reporting about environmental issues by journalists at the start of their careers. According to Bill McKibben, scholar in residence in Environmental studies and program director, the pool this year included “a fiercely competitive field of applicants.”

“There were at least 30 proposals equally deserving,” said McKibben, author of “Deep Economy” (2007) and “The End of Nature” (1989). “But the range of stories allowed us to pick among the most immediate and pressing, the ones we felt most needed to be told and were least likely to be reported otherwise.”

College's Axinn Center at Starr Library wins awards for sustainable design

Earlier this spring, the Donald E. Axinn ’51, Litt. D. ’89 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library received a Sustainable Design Award from the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) and an Excellence in Architecture award from the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP). Sustainability is an integral part of the culture at Middlebury College, which has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2016.

According to a news release from the building’s architects, Boston-based Childs Bertman Tseckares (CBT), the awards are an affirmation of the high quality planning, design and service efforts associated with the facility. The BSA is Boston’s local American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter, and the SCUP award recognizes best practices and emerging trends related to planning in higher education.

Middlebury students attend Powershift 2009

More than 190 Middlebury students and several faculty and staff members will travel to Washington, D.C., this weekend to attend the 2009 Powershift conference, a youth climate gathering that organizers hope will draw as many as 10,000 students from across the country.

Many of the students will also attend Capitol Climate Action, co-organized by Middlebury Scholar in Residence Bill McKibben, which organizers expect to be the largest civil disobedience protest on climate change in history.

This is the second Powershift conference—the first was in November 2007—and is designed to give students the knowledge and training to become effective climate lobbyists. Students spend the first part of the weekend in workshops and lectures. Monday is a day of lobbying during which students descend on Capitol Hill to speak with legislators and their staff about issues related to climate change.

Colleges turn to wood chips for heat — and education

Temperatures in Middlebury, Vermont, are expected to dip well below zero in the next few days. But students at Middlebury College should be cozy and warm — thanks in part to wood chips.

As part of a carbon-reduction initiative on campus, the college on Thursday expects to push the start button on its $12 million biomass gasification boiler. The facility, which sits in the middle of the campus, is projected to reduce the college’s heating oil consumption by a million gallons each year.

Getting a wood-chip boiler up and running is not easy. For Middlebury, there were three main concerns: the location of the plant, cost, and the availability of a fuel supply.