Greening Warren Wilson College

Interact

Paul Bartels
Environmental Leadership Center

Paul Bartels Address:
WWC CPO 6032
PO Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000

Phone: 828.771.3781

Email: pbartels@warren-wilson.ed

Executive Summary

Introduction

One goal of this document is to record and celebrate all that Warren Wilson College has done to express our commitment to protecting the environment. If we fail to acknowledge and applaud our many good efforts, we run the risk of becoming disheartened, bitter, and cynical. At the same time, we must not allow our celebration of the past to become a defense of the status quo. We need to celebrate our past, study what we are doing right and wrong in the present, and prepare an agenda for the future.

Toward that end, President Doug Orr, in January of 1997, created the “Process Steering Group for an Environmental Campus” (PSGEC). These students, staff, and faculty were charged with helping to identify and coordinate efforts on campus to “set in motion a process for developing further the environmental commitments and policies for Warren Wilson College.” President Orr also directed that the PSGEC should ”make periodic reports to the Staff Forum and Student Caucus.” This report is written in compliance with this directive from the President of the College. It will serve to give a “snapshot” of where we stand at this particular point in time.

Commitments We Have Made

College Mission
Forest Management Plan
Land Use Planning
Farm Long Range Land Use Plan
Native Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Fisheries Pattern Language
Landscape Pattern Language
Student Caucus Initiatives
Environmental Goals and Commitment Statements
Hazardous Materials Program (HAZMAT)
Environmental Components of WWC Academics

Projects We Have Preformed

Sustainable Farm: Crop rotation, reduction of pesticides, and numerous other practices minimize environmental impacts on the farm. (Chase Hubbard)

Sustainable Forest: Elimination of exotic invasive species, prescribed burns, and a sawmill demonstrate the sustainable practices employed on the WWC forest.

Organic Garden: The college garden is a certified organic garden providing produce for local consumption.

Composting: The garden, in cooperation with Mariott Food Service operates a college-wide composting program.

Landscaping: The Landscaping Crew uses native plantings, organic fertilizers and a minimum of herbicides and pesticides. (Tom LaMuraglia)

Wild Grasses and Seed Bank: Landscaping has worked with the US Forest Service to grow and produce native grasses for roadside plantings. (Tom LaMuraglia)

Black Swan Center: This Center was in operation in the late 1980s and early 1990s and provided land use planning for the Swannanoa Valley. Several spin-off operations developed from the Black Swan Center.

Recycling: A community recycling program has been in operation since 1982. (Jessica Foster)

The Scrappers: Now incorporated into the Recycling Crew, this initiative focuses on salvaging wood and metals.

Biodiversity Conservation: Through forest, farm, and other land use practices we are attempting to save or enhance habitat for wildlife. (Louise Weber)

Environmental Audit: In 1997 an environmental audit was conducted for the college by the WRATT program, sponsored by Land of the Sky Regional Council.

Green Lights: We are in compliance with EPA's Green Lights program for energy efficient lighting. (John Griffith)

Water Conservation: We have initiated water savings initiatives, such as low flow shower heads, throughout the campus.

Building Upgrades: Many campus buildings have been upgraded with insulation and other improvements for energy efficiency.

Autoshop: The Autoshop maintains vehicles with proper tuning and tire pressure, and has initiated a number of additional sustainable measures.

Give Mother Earth a Rest Day: In 1997 and 1998 this day allowed us to focus on practices that work crews can or could do to minimize environmental impacts.

College Press: The College Press uses 100% post-consumer chlorine-free paper and soy inks, in addition to assisting with reducing our paper usage. (Bob Lamb)

WWC- JCSU Environmental Justice Project: This is a course jointly taught by WWC and Johnson C. Smith University that focuses on environmental justice issues.

Environmental Leadership Center: The ELC is an environmental education outreach organization that provides leadership for our campus greening efforts. (Paul Bartels)

Electric Cart Fleet & Solar Charging Station: We now have 11 electric carts, and will soon build a solar charging station for them to create a zero emission fleet.

Wellness: This is a student-led program to promote healthy lifestyles and a healthy planet. (Molly McMillan)

Campus Greening Seed Grants: Students and a staff co-sponsor can apply to the ELC for grants up to $500 for appropriate technology or environmental restoration projects on campus. (Stan Cross)

Marriott Dining Services: Marriott has initiated a number of waste reduction and efficiency maximizing projects. (Brian O'Loughlin)

Cowpie Café: Newly re-commissioned, the Cowpie provides local, organic foods via a student-run food service dedicated to self-sufficiency and minimal environmental impact.

Transportation: To reduce vehicle traffic on campus, first year students are no longer allowed to have cars, and a campus shuttle service operates for trips to Asheville.

Solar Light: A solar parking lot light is installed behind DeVries gym. (John Griffith)

Mitigation of Construction Impacts: The Business Affairs Committee is charged with insuring that construction is carried out with minimal environmental impacts.

Paint Crew: The Paint crew uses water based paints to minimize VOCs.

Witherspoon Science Building: Passive solar design and natural lighting are featured in the new science labs. (Dean Kahl)

EcoDorm: The next, and last, dorm scheduled for construction will be a showcase for cutting edge sustainable building design.

Values Inventory: Students in philosophy classes have been experimenting with various ways to develop an understanding and dialogue concerning the underlying values that inform our commitment to environmental stewardship.

From the Projects: Habits, Expectations, and Principles

What can we learn from what we have accomplished?

  1. WWC has engaged in a truly impressive list of environmental projects, and we have much to be proud of in comparison with other colleges and universities.
  2. Commitments and projects at WWC are largely imbedded in individual initiative and behavior. At the institutional level, however, we have not been systematic or intentional in our efforts. This focus on individual initiative allows the freedom for remarkable creativity, but the lack of a coordinated program of campus greening means that projects may not outlast a particular person's tenure or may not be elevated to a broader program or policy.
  3. It is not clear how policies that are proposed by committees or other elements of the community become truly established into the governance structure and the operating norms of the college. To begin to address this problem, the Long Range Land Use Committee has been charged with developing Environmental Pattern Language for Energy & Transportation, Solid & Hazardous Waste, Water Quality, Air Quality, Purchasing, Personnel, and Construction. The guidelines developed for these areas will come from relevant stakeholders. However, even after these are developed and adopted by the governance process, it remains unclear how we will insure their implementation.
  4. To date we have not attempted to set quantifiable goals, and to engage the full campus community in an ongoing, rigorous environmental monitoring program.
An Agenda for the Future

For WWC to “take the next step” in campus greening, the PSGEC offers the following recommendations:

  1. We suggest that the college adopt a very strong stance regarding the value of maintaining and protecting all college property, especially the lands beyond the central campus such as Dam Pasture and Jones Mountain. When possible, the purchase of adjacent lands should be encouraged.
  2. We should continue to promote and support environmental projects, and we should improve our record keeping and publicizing of these projects.
  3. We should evaluate and strengthen the shared governance system to make it more responsive, and to reduce the necessity of unilateral, spur-of-the-moment decision making. Furthermore, individual land managers operate as independent decision-makers with little supervision, community input, or dialogue with other land managers. We believe the college needs to coordinate the various land use practices and projects into a single land use plan.
  4. The remaining sections of Environmental Pattern Language should be developed rapidly, and they should represent our highest ideals. Once developed, we need to reassess past commitments and policies to eliminate contradictions.
  5. Once adopted, our Environmental Pattern Language should be incorporated into the Physical Plant Management Plan. Hiring decisions for staff positions, especially the director of the Physical Plant, should include an assessment of commitment to the principles and goals of the Environmental Pattern Language.
  6. In consultation with environmental engineering experts and with maximum integration of class and work crew participation, we should develop an effective environmental auditing program.
  7. We should continue to discuss and develop a sense of shared values that inform our environmental commitments and practices.
  8. We believe environmental awareness should be an important consideration in faculty hiring decisions. We suggest the following:
    1. Environmental concern should be written into the “Frank and Earnest” letter as we now do for “global concerns”;
    2. We should promote genuine interdisciplinary perspectives among faculty in teaching and research;
    3. We need to debate the relevance and appropriateness of weaving environmentalism throughout our liberal arts curriculum. Perhaps we could begin by reading C.A. Bowers' The Culture of Denial: Why the Environmental Movement Needs a Strategy for Reforming Universities and Public Schools.
  9. Ongoing administrative leadership is required for campus greening which should include the following:
    1. ratify and support the international Talloires Declaration;
    2. give genuine and enthusiastic support to worthwhile environmental projects;
    3. provide support for a complete and competent environmental audit;
    4. where cost/benefit analysis is appropriate, use total cost accounting and extended product responsibility in computing the true costs and the true benefits of any project.
  10. At the time of this writing, President Orr is reformulating the PSGEC. From henceforth it will be known as the Campus Greening Committee. Its newly appointed charge is:
    1. to develop specific recommendations, beginning with and drawing upon those indicated above;
    2. to monitor and oversee a process of campus environmental auditing;
    3. to maintain records on campus greening projects, principles and policies;
    4. to help facilitate campus-wide dialogue concerning environmental issues and to bring to campus speakers and resource persons;
    5. to facilitate collaborative efforts, idea exchange and dialogue with other colleges and universities as well as local, regional, and national environmental organizations;
    6. to serve as a responsive ear for campus environmental concerns and ideas; and
    7. to work closely with the Long Range Land Use Planning Committee and Business Affairs Committee.

The Long Range Land Use Planning Committee continues to have the responsibility of developing guidelines for environmental areas such as water quality, air quality, energy, etc. previously mentioned. For these guidelines to become part of College policy they must be adopted by the normal college governance process. The Business Affairs Committee's role is to interpret the principles adopted by the college and oversee the application of those principles. Recommendations from the Campus Greening Committee will go to Long Range Land Use for further action.