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Sustainability at Centralia College

tree planting

Sustainability Committee sponsors tree planting event

The Sustainability Committee sponsored its 2nd annual tree planting event on February 25, 2012. The event brings Centralia College faculty, staff, and students together to plant trees near Port of Chehalis, WA, to foster sustainability and help offset the college's carbon footprint. Trees are provided by Weyerhaeuser.

February 2012 Tree Planting Photos:

February 2011 Tree Planting Photos:

Past Sustainability Efforts at Centralia College


student at water dispenser

Looking for a drink of good water? How about purified water?

It's now available in the Centralia College Student Building foyer and it's free. You need only bring your thirst and a container. The college installed a hydration station water dispenser in part to replace the Centralia College-labeled bottled water sold through the college cafeteria and reduce waste, but also to offer the charcoal filtered water as a service to faculty, staff and students. The charcoal-activated filters will remove chemicals that might otherwise be present in tap water and that might affect the taste of unfiltered water. Hydration, college officials say, will also encourage and promote good health. The college's sustainability committee spearheaded the effort to install the hydration station, mounted in the northwest wall of the Student Center Building foyer. The filters are effective for up to 2,000 gallons. The dispenser will accommodate one-quarter or smaller containers.

green expo logo

Lewis County Going Green Expo

The Lewis County Going Green Expo held in the New Science Center at Centralia College was hosted by Leadership Lewis County, sponsored by Centralia College, The Chronicle, and The Chamber. A showcase of "going green" ideas and several hands-on activities, informational booths and keynote speakers were presented. The Green Expo was attended by approximately 200 people who visited 28 vendors with information on everything from skin care products to solar panels, building materials and gardening. Several informational booths provided information on recycling, pesticides and household cleaning alternatives and more. Overall the event provided valuable information on realistic things that every household can do to help our planet and save money!

new science center

New Science Center qualifies for LEED Gold Rating

As the new $32 million center was being designed, college officials determined to make it the region's first example of a truly low carbon impact, energy efficient, and sustainable-resource building. Initially aiming at a nationally-recognized LEED "silver" rating for energy efficient "green" building standards, the complex has now qualified for the U.S. Green Building Council's prestigious "gold" certification. The LEED standards indicate "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. » Read.

electric truck

Centralia College adds electric truck to fleet

As the state's Center of Excellence for Energy Technology and a recognized leader in energy efficiency and energy conservation, Centralia College takes its role seriously. The college has carefully defined its carbon footprint, engaged faculty and students in comprehensive resource recycling, has the first large building in the region built to LEEDS standards, and is even switching to native plants and grasses to conserve water and eliminate the need for fertilizer or pesticides. » Read.

commuter bus

Transportation options — save money and map your alternate route to campus!

Many low-cost alternatives exist for getting to campus. As gas prices climb higher and higher, consider riding the bus, carpooling, vanpooling, and other ways to get to campus. » Read.

carbon footprint

Centralia College carbon footprint report

Establishing Centralia College's baseline carbon footprint involved wading through thousands of data files, developing surveys, conducting interviews, and taking measurements. Ultimately, the college's sustainability intern, Annie Lindberg, determined the 2006-2007 carbon emissions from electricity use, natural gas consumption, college-fleet fuel consumption, college reimbursed travel miles, commuter habits, fertilizer application, and refrigerant use. » Read.

recycle can

College ramps up recycling efforts

Our recycling program is picking up momentum with the addition of new, highly visible recycling containers throughout campus. The Centralia College recycling model could be used by schools and other public agencies throughout the region to reduce the cost and environmental discord that garbage creates. » Read.

sustaining energy litebulb

College defines its 'carbon footprint'

Centralia College has begun a study to define and outline its "carbon footprint," as part of its commitment to sustainability. The study is the latest step in a policy of environmental responsibility announced over a year ago by College President Jim Walton. » Read.

sustaining the earth

Climate Commitment signed by President Walton

The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (doc), signed by Centralia College President Jim Walton, contains the goals and objectives of the students, faculty, and staff of Centralia College in combined efforts toward sustainability. » Read.

recycling symbol

Wide-ranging recycling expands across campus

Bob Audet, director of Custodial and Grounds, announced a waste management effort to support the college's sustainability initiative. Audet's efforts may be among the most progressive in the state.
» Read.

Adam Peterson

Centralia students support sustainability

The students of Centralia College are taking an active role in sustainability. They recognize the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations. Because of that, students are taking steps to curb waste and recycle resources. » Read.

global sustainability

Sustainability efforts locally, statewide & nationwide

* Focus the Nation
* Sustainability on Centralia College Blogger
* Centralia College Lyceum Sustainability Series
* Environmental Community spearheads solutions to global warming
* U.S. EPA Sustainability Web site

Centralia College adds electric truck to fleet

electric truckAs the state's Center of Excellence for Energy Technology and a recognized leader in energy efficiency and energy conservation, Centralia College takes its role seriously. The college has carefully defined its carbon footprint, engaged faculty and students in comprehensive resource recycling, has the first large building in the region built to LEEDS standards, and is even switching to native plants and grasses to conserve water and eliminate the need for fertilizer or pesticides. The college is also working to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and reduce atmospheric carbon emissions to as near zero as possible. Electricity is the hands-down energy choice for the college's future needs.

For several years Centralia College has been upgrading maintenance vehicles from petroleum to electric propulsion, mainly by using battery-operated "golf cart" machines for landscape and general maintenance. The college still has a large bus and a van for student transport, but on-campus vehicles are increasingly low-emission types.

Late last year the college installed several curbside electrical recharging centers for use by college, staff, or student vehicles. This month the college added a zero-emission small truck to the lineup, solving the problem of off-campus errands, parts pickup, equipment transport, and other uses. The college took delivery of an all-electric small truck this month that will answer a large part of the off-campus transportation needs.

The funding for the small truck was part of a larger grant from the Lewis County Economic Development Council. The EDC provided some $260,000 in grants to purchase simulated lab equipment and other teaching aids for the CoE Energy Technology program, a cornerstone of the region's ability to compete in the electric energy market. About $20,000 of that grant was earmarked for the electric truck to demonstrate the viability of a modern low-impact vehicle in day-to-day work. The vehicle will be assigned to FOM for a wide range of facility maintenance tasks. Look for the spiffy little white truck—with the college logo proudly emblazoned on its sides—scurrying about the campus almost any day now!

College's Carbon Footprint Defined: 18,428 MTCDE last year!

In September of 2007, Centralia College President Jim Walton signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, joining hundreds of colleges nationwide in a pledge to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions over time. Establishing the college's baseline carbon footprint involved wading through thousands of data files, developing surveys, conducting interviews, and taking measurements. Ultimately, Centralia College Sustainability Intern, Annie Lindberg, determined the college's 2006-2007 carbon emissions from electricity use, natural gas consumption, college-fleet fuel consumption, college reimbursed travel miles, commuter habits, fertilizer application, and refrigerant use, to be 18,428 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE). This means that Centralia College averages 2.7 MTCDE per full-time equivalent student.

As it turns out, the college's carbon footprint per full-time student is significantly less than the national average of 11.2 MTCDE! This is indeed a favorable comparison, but it is essential to look at the larger picture as well. Whereas many colleges are residential, Centralia College is a commuter campus without dorms; accordingly housing emissions were not included in the inventory. But, with no on-campus living options, commuting emissions are especially large. Eighty-eight percent of the college’s total emissions come from student, faculty, and staff commuting!

Accordingly, this year at Centralia College, transportation along with recycling and paper use will be our primary sustainability focuses. You can do your part by reducing your paper use, writing and printing on both sides of the page, recycling all recyclables in the large blue recycle bins spread throughout campus (new since May!) and carpooling, taking the bus, biking, or walking whenever possible. See our commuting Web site, which includes information to help you make carpool connections; obtain a free, reserved parking space for your hybrid or electric vehicle; obtain a pass to park in convenient, reserved carpool spaces; locate bus routes and times; and bike safely to CC.

See the Centralia College Carbon Footprint Report (pdf) for the full report, complete with graphs.

College ramps up recycling efforts

recycle canSoda pop cans tossed by Centralia College students will have a better chance of coming back as a pen or some other useful item because of the college's ramped up recycling efforts. This next step in the move toward sustainability shows up as more than three dozen specially designated and brightly colored recycling containers spread across campus and throughout buildings. While in the past the college encouraged recycling of plastic and metal products, those choosing to recycle may have had trouble finding proper receptacles. That is no longer the case.

"Our recycling program is picking up momentum and with these highly visible containers it will be easier for everyone to contribute to the effort," said Dr. James Walton, college president. According to Bob Audet, the college's Building and Grounds supervisor, by recycling the college could keep more than 3,200-cubic yards of waste out of landfills each year. "It's absolutely the right thing to do," said Audet. The college also stands to shave about $1,000 off its $4,000 monthly garbage bill, according to Audet.

The new campus recycling bins open the door for the recycling of plastic bottles and jars, dairy tubs, and cups, jugs and containers. Aluminum and tin cans, clean aluminum foil, pots and pans and some other metals can also find new life. Glass cannot be recycled, yet, and the recycling of food-contaminated paper products is still on the horizon. Recycling paper costs the college nearly $900 per month and up until now, it could not recycle shredded paper. But with a revamped pick up process, shredded paper will now be returned for another round of use.

Changes in the waste management industry also allow the college to more economically recycle leaves, lawn and shrubbery clippings and other organic waste. "It costs money to throw things away," Audet said, "and it costs even more to recycle much of our waste. But in the long run, our new recycling efforts will benefit us all with lower product costs, less landfill activity, and a diminished need for raw material." Audet is optimistic the college's recycling efforts will make a significant difference in the college's commitment to achieve sustainability. He's convinced the Centralia College model could be used by schools and other public agencies throughout the region to reduce the cost and environmental discord that garbage creates.

President Walton added that the recycling program is another step in an agreement with several hundred colleges, universities, and municipal governments to become leaders in environmental responsibility. "We are building our new Science Center to meet environmental standards," Walton explained. "We've agreed to use energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems," he added. "It's all a part of the college's effort to reduce pollution, eliminate harmful emissions and move toward sustainability. This planet has finite resources and we absolutely must take steps to preserve them. This recycling program will help us meet our goals."

Centralia College defines its 'carbon footprint'

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Centralia College has begun a study to define and outline the college's "carbon footprint." The study is the latest step in a policy of environmental responsibility announced over a year ago by Dr. Jim Walton, college president. "We've joined other colleges and universities in a major initiative that will allow us to operate all our facilities while reducing the impact on the environment. The footprint we will develop," Walton continued, "will allow us to measure the impact our activities have on the environment, measured in terms of the amount of green house gases we produce."

The college has already begun one of the most extensive recycling programs in Southwest Washington, is building the new Science Center to "LEED" (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, and has taken steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from travel activities.

Annie Lindberg, a master's candidate in Environmental Studies at Evergreen State, will develop the new carbon footprint. A Seattle native, Lindberg earned her undergraduate degree at Pomona College in California. She has joined Centralia College as an intern assigned to produce the footprint, considered an essential guide to the reduction of carbon dioxide produced as a result of college operations. The footprint will be used to determine the mitigation steps that will best offset the college's environmental impact. Lindberg is passionate about the role individuals and organizations can take to reduce global climate change, but brings a definitely practical approach to the task.

"The Chinese," she explained, "simply outlawed the use of plastic grocery bags nationwide. The step didn't need any particular behavior modification on the part of the people, yet the action saved literally billions of dollars in waste management costs, reduced landfills by millions of yards, and didn't pose a hardship on consumers. When our footprint study is completed," Lindberg continued, "we hope to suggest practices that can improve our impact on the environment. "Lindberg hopes to expand the study to determine the impact of student travel to and from the campus from outlying areas. "If it's large, we may want to look at alternatives such as carpooling or sponsored transit to reduce the carbon output."

When complete, the college will share the results of the study with the community so other agencies and organizations may begin using the data to reduce other area impacts on the regional environment.


Wide-ranging recylcing program expands across campus

In response to Centralia College's commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility, the college has begun a wide-ranging recycling program. Bob Audet, director of Custodial and Grounds, announced a waste management effort to support the college's sustainability initiative. Audet's efforts may be among the most progressive in the state.

Changes in the waste management industry will allow the college to move much of its current waste into the recycling loop. "It costs money to throw things away," Audet said, "and it costs even more to recycle much of our waste. But in the long run, our new recycling efforts will benefit us all with lower product costs, less landfill activity, and a diminished need for raw material." The recycling program became possible after Audet helped build a partnership between the college, LeMay Inc., and Silver Springs Organics. Because of a new Silver Springs state-of-the-art composting facility near Roy, Washington, organic waste will be the first part of the waste stream to be modified on campus.

"We'll move hundreds of yards of leaves and other yard waste to a collection facility behind our Tech Building," Audet said. "Then we will add smaller collectors for food wastes, paper and cardboard contaminated with food, and other organic material. Instead of an ugly and potential hazard to landfills and transfer stations, our food waste can become top-quality composted soil." Audet is proposing aesthetically pleasing receptacles around the campus. The organic component will be followed by a "co-mingled waste" strategy that will allow individuals and departments to put such items as plastic, paper, aluminum, steel cans, and other items in single receptacles. Sophisticated machines at the recycle center will separate those waste items for further processing.

Audet isn't certain how much of the current waste stream will be diverted to the recycle process, but he's optimistic it will make a huge difference in the college's commitment to achieve sustainability. "There will always be some things like glass that cannot yet be economically recycled, and some circumstances where separate treatment isn't warranted," Audet observed. "We'll us other strategies to reduce those problems." Audet remains convinced the Centralia College model, once implemented, could be used by schools and other public agencies throughout the region to reduce the cost and environmental discord that garbage creates.

Centralia College president Dr. Jim Walton said the recycling program is another step in an agreement with several hundred colleges and universities to become leaders in environmental responsibility. "We are building our new Science Center to meet environmental standards," Walton explained. "We've created policies to use only energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems," he added. "It's all a part of the college's effort to reduce pollution and eliminate harmful emissions. This recycling program will do much to meet our goals."

Centralia students support sustainability

Adam PetersonThe students of Centralia College are taking an active role in sustainability. They recognize the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations. Because of that, students are taking steps to curb waste and recycle resources. The following is written by Adam Peterson, a member of Student Government and the student ECO Club, an ecology-focused student club leading student sustainability efforts:

"As a member of the college's ECO Club and the Sustainability Committee, I've had a hand in the student activities we have in place to help the environment. For example, one of the most visible things we have done is to place recycling cans in the cafeteria. These cans are gathered and emptied regularly by students who sort and process them before they are taken to the recycling center. Students are also working on raising awareness of important environmental issues and promoting small changes in people's lifestyles and mindsets. The recent Go Green Fair that was hosted by the ECO Club covered simple things the average person can do, such as recycling or composting. The overall impact, if everyone did these small things, whether it's recycling plastic or carpooling, could begin small changes in people's lifestyles and mindsets." The students are on a mission that includes increasing awareness of the need for recycling. "It's important that we continue these efforts so there is a quality environment to pass on to future generations," he said.