Greening Warren Wilson College


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

Projects We Have Performed

Here we have tried to capture the major environmental projects that illustrate our pervasive and deep commitment to campus greening. At the end of each project we identify a contact person for those wishing to pursue further details.


The Farm Crew has been implementing sustainable practices on the farm over the past four years. Grain production is pesticide free and grown from non-genetically engineered seeds thereby decreasing harmful pesticide run off and ecological health risks. Crop and pasture rotation is a key element to the management plan. The amount of hay harvested has increased and will be used in the winter for livestock. Each Fall, the Warren Wilson Farm sells antibiotic and hormone-free beef it sells to the public and the College community. This project has helped the farm economically and provides a means to teach the public about small farms and the high quality of produce that comes from a healthy living environment as opposed to mass production farming. In the fall of 1999, a wetland wildlife area was designated at the junction of Charlie's pasture and the S-Field near Red Barn and Warren Wilson Road. This area is being converted to an area for wildlife habitat and will be protected from livestock and development. A summary of farm accomplishments was published in 1999App14 that documents additional sustainable agricultural practices. (John Pilson)


The WWC Forest, over 600 acres in size, represents over half of all College lands. Recently, great effort has been put into a cutting-edge program for removal of invasive exotic species such as oriental bittersweet, tree-of-heaven, multiflora rose, Japanese spirea, privet, and honeysuckle. A regular program of prescribed burns in mature hardwood stands aids in exotic species control, encourages native understory species, and enhances regeneration of oaks and hickories. Other recent projects include trail maintenance to control erosion, the purchase and operation of a small portable sawmill to increase our ability to use local timber in campus building projects, and other management tools to increase the percentage of oak-hickory forest. The objective is to make the Warren Wilson Forest a model of sustainable forestry for small landholders in the Southern Appalachians, and to support the College's tradition in pre-forestry education in the Environmental Studies Department. (William Davis)


The WWC garden is a certified organic garden. A large greenhouse was built in January of 1999, funded partly by the Wellness program, and it is used to produce salad greens for the Cowpie Café (see below) and seedling production in the spring. A management plan documenting many of the garden's practices was written in the Spring of 1998App12. (Donna Price)


A large scale composting program is carried out by the Garden Crew. Food waste is collected in Gladfelter dining hall and dorm kitchens. The food waste is mixed with clippings from landscaping and the garden along with pig wastes from the farm and sawdust from work at the saw mill. The compost is processed then applied in the garden. It is estimated that 1000 lbs. of compost is generated every week in this program. (Donna Price)


The Landscaping Crew at WWC is supervised by Tom LaMuraglia. Students work to maintain the grounds of the central campus. As the campus continues to grow, attention to designing landscapes that are low maintenance, environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing is the goal. As many native and edible plants as possible are envisioned where appropriate. Practices are employed to stress enhancement of soil viability. Control of run off due to changes in the landscape is a major concern and measures are being adopted to control the effect of increased velocity of storm water. Pesticides (Finale or Roundup) are used sparingly to eliminate noxious weeds. Where possible "organic" controls are used to eliminate pests, i.e. Baccillus thurigensis to control Catalpa worms. No inorganic fertilizers are used. (Tom LaMuraglia)

Wild Grasses and Seed Bank

Since 1998 the Landscaping Crew has been working with the USDA Forest Service growing native grasses and flowers in an effort to make these plants available for the use in restoration projects along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Southern Appalachian Forests. The Forest Service has provided the Landscaping Crew with the seeds that have been collected over the past four years. The seeds have been planted, grown and researched by students. The plants were sold to the forest service and planted at sites that will serve as collection beds, making seeds available and accessible in the future. On campus there are plans to use the native grasses and flowers grown by the Landscaping Crew in low traffic areas that are currently being mowed. The goals of this plan are to eliminate pollution of mowers and to provide an environment that creates wildlife habitat and improves aesthetic beauty. (Tom LaMuraglia)

Black Swan Center

From approximately 1984-1989, the Environmental Studies Work Crew was led by Laura Temple Haney. Among many projects done during this era, the most ambitious was the Black Swan Center. The Black Swan Center, referring to the communities of Black Mountain and Swannanoa, grew out of the Swannanoa Valley Project which began in 1985. The Swannanoa Valley Project was a land-use planning and economic development study carried out by Swannanoa Valley residents and WWC faculty, staff and students. The work of this project led to a number of suggestions for sustainable community development, and the Black Swan Center was initiated in 1988 with co-directors Laura Temple Haney and Louise Solomon, then Director of Service Learning for WWC. The purpose of the Center was to stimulate sustainable community development in the Swannanoa Valley and to prepare faculty, staff, and students at WWC to work in the Valley. Black Swan was affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Institute and was it's first Economic Renewal Program in the East. Black Swan had 14 projects initially with a WWC student directing each. Eventually, the Center moved off campus and became an independent non-profit organization, spinning off several other significant free standing programs. Among these Black Swan spin-offs were Mountain Micro Enterprises, the Swannanoa Museum, and Swannanoa Valley Recyclers (see below). One of the final projects of the Black Swan Center before it closed in 1992 was a significant Sustainable Community Development Conference for the Asheville region. Further information on the history of Black Swan Center can be found in the WWC Library Archives.


One of our most successful early major greening projects was the WWC Recycling Program. Recycling at WWC began in 1982 with the GAIN program. This was expanded greatly following a 1987 class project in Environmental Policy taught by Laura Temple Haney. Subsequently, WWC assisted Buncombe County in developing community recycling centers in the Swannanoa Valley region, calling the program Swannanoa Valley Recyclers. The history is summarized in "Recycling at WWC" produced by Adrianne Gordon of the Solid Waste Crew in 1996App5. Warren Wilson College recycles paper, glass, plastic and most metals. The majority of students and resident faculty at WWC recycle consistently. The Recycling Work Crew collects the recyclable materials from various bins on campus. In October 1999 a full time recycling position was created and Jessica Foster was hired. At the time of this writing a new facility for the Recycling Program is nearing completion. (Jessica Foster)

The Scrappers

The Scrappers started in 1998 on a volunteer basis. Student Jen Schwager was one of the leaders for the Scrappers. With Jen's initiative students from the Garden and Landscaping Crews were allowed to work on getting rid of the burn pile and the reuse and recycling of metals and wood on campus. Since then the scrappers have been incorporated into the general Recycling Crew. The Recycling Crew still continues the mission and goals of the scrapper group, which include: the reuse and recycling of metals and wood, establishing sorted piles of wood in categories, assisting in the delivery of scrap metal to Biltmore Iron and Metal, establishing a communication line among crews concerning the placement and future use of their waste, and educating the campus community on the availability of recycled building materials. Currently, a Free Store is being developed to redistribute reusable goods to the community. (Jessica Foster)

Biodiversity Conservation

The Environmental Studies / Biology Crew, the Natural Resources Crew, and the Farm Crew have begun to implement some of the suggestions in the Native Biodiversity Pattern Language. The ENS / BIO Crew has worked on the upkeep of the butterfly garden and the river trail. They have also constructed blue bird boxes and monitored these for inhabitants. NRC has worked to remove invasive species such as oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose. As mentioned earlier, a wildlife wetland area has been constructed near the red barn. The Farm Crew is progressively working towards keeping all our livestock out of the riparian zone near the river and the forest areas to protect water and soil quality. (Louise Weber)

Environmental Audit

A campus environmental audit was done in 1997, and a report was published in 1998. This audit included an assessment of recycling, water and energy conservation with an emphasis on campus lighting. The audit was done by WRATTApp10 (Waste Reduction And Technology Transfer--now known as the Waste Reduction Partners) a program of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council. The physical plant staff and students of WWC were involved with the audit. The service was done at no cost to the college. The items audited are divided as follows: water, electric lighting, natural gas, and recycling. The audit listed current consumption, recommended savings, target dates for improvement, and suggested actions to take. The section addressing recycling itemized the types of materials by weight, and proposes increases in savings and an increase of recycled material weight. As our Campus Greening process moves toward quantifiable targets for various environmental areas, an ongoing internal audit process building on the WRATT audit will be necessary. (Larry Modlin / Willie Warren)

Green Lights

Green Lights is a program created by the Environmental Protection Agency to increase energy efficiency by providing awards for organizations that switch to low wattage fluorescent lighting and other electricity saving devices. Following the WRATT audit of 1998, WWC aggressively pursued Green Lights certification. Electrical Crew students participated in a lighting audit, and the firm of Lighting System Solutions, owned and operated by WWC alumnus Robert Follett, was hired for $191,000 to completely re-lamp the campusApp11. This included over $5000 to properly recycle the old incandescent bulbs. The total costs should be recovered in 2.7 years. The re-lamping was completed in the summer of 1999. Experimentally, flexiwatt lighting has also been installed in some offices, including the Environmental Leadership Center. It is estimated these improvements save us $48,000 annually. The economic savings are accompanied by real gains in the reduction of air pollutants. The reduction in electricity consumption reduces CO2 pollution by almost 1 million pounds per year, SO2 pollution by 4000 kg/year, and NOx by 1600 kg/yr. For our efforts which went well beyond Green Lights minimum requirements, WWC was recognized in the 1997 Energy Star Buildings and Green Lights Honor Society. (Larry Modlin / John Griffith)

Water Conservation

Following the WRATT audit, an extensive program was initiated to increase our stewardship of drinking water resources. Low flow shower heads have been installed in all dormitories, and low volume toilets have been installed where practical given the constraints of sewer pipe infrastructure. All new buildings have been installed with these water saving devices. A dehumidifier was installed in the pool to recapture evaporated water, and river water is used for landscaping and garden where possible. Furthermore, a well was dug to provide water for the pool and soccer field. In the 1997-98 academic year these efforts resulted in a significant reduction in water usage, and in 1999 the Regional Water Authority awarded WWC a Water Use Surcharge Exemption in acknowledgment of our water conservation efforts. (Larry Modlin / Willie Warren)

Building Upgrades

Many of the campus buildings were outdated and inefficient. In the early 1990s, a major grant allowed us to add insulation to every building on campus. The same grant provided the funding to shift to natural gas for much of our heating. In 1990, $70,000 was spent on a high efficiency natural gas boiler for the main boiler room. In the past four years, Insulated windows have been added to Schaffer, Vining, and Dorland Dormitories. Additionally, more efficient fan-coil hot water recirculating heating systems have been installed in Vining, Dorland, and Kittridge. One faculty house has been renovated with energy efficient components, and others are targeted when finances permit. (Larry Modlin / Willie Warren)


The physical plant installed a $10,000 Waste Oil Burner in 1997 to become the main heater for the physical plant building. Our own waste oil from the autoshop is used in this heater, and we purchase waste oil from other service stations, as well. The autoshop also installed a water/oil separator in 1999 to remove oil from the wastewater stream. (Similar oil/water separators have been installed in the new cafeteria refit.) The Autoshop insures that college vehicles are well-tuned, and the vehicle fleet has moved to smaller trucks and cars where possible, including a fleet of electric vehicles (see below). (Vince Anderson)

Give Mother Earth a Rest Day

Give Mother Earth a Rest Day (GMEARD) is a day for individuals, work crews, and the campus as a whole to reflect on their practices and their influence on the earth. GMEARD is a day in which everyone on campus is encouraged to use little or no electricity and to lower their impact on the earth by finding alternatives to daily wasteful practices. GMEARD took place in October during 1997 and 1998. The PSGEC invited crews to turn in a list of their GMEARD practices and to make suggestions for additional projectsApp7. Examples of environmentally sensitive crew activities recorded from GMEARD include: use of ceramic mugs and plates rather than styrofoam or paper, use of recycled carpet squares in the ELC, a grab bag for unwanted clothes which are eventually donated to goodwill if unclaimed, extensive use of recycled paper and in some offices re-used one-sided paper, trash pick up along roads and trails, materials re-use by most physical plant work crews, and the elimination of the most hazardous chemicals in chemistry labs, janitorial supplies, and the art department.

College Press

For the past five years, we have used recycled paper throughout the college. Currently, we have shifted to exclusive use of 100% post-consumer chlorine-free paper. The College Press is committed to reduce paper waste, and to reuse materials as frequently as possible. The print shop offers used one-sided paper to students, staff and faculty. Paper that can not be reused is recycled. The print shop encourages minimizing the number of copies made for campus announcements. Soy inks and environmentally friendly solutions have greatly reduced VOCs. (Bob Lamb)

WWC- JCSU Environmental Justice Project

Dr. Frank Kalinowski of WWC and Dr. Godwin Mbamalu of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte developed a cooperative class engaging students from both institutions in field research designed to demonstrate the interdisciplinary application of environmental science, policy analysis, and the mobilization of citizen action. Approximately ten students from each institution work to research issues of water quality in the Charlotte Area. Chemical analysis of drinking water and surface water is combined with analysis of policies that influence water quality. Theory and action are combined in public educational presentations. (Frank Kalinowski)

Environmental Leadership Center

The Environmental Leadership Center (ELC) is an environmental education outreach organization of the college that began in 1996 under the leadership of John Huie. Among its many off-campus programs the ELC includes the EcoTeam, the ELC Internship Program, Expeditions, GLOBE, Environmental Voices, Swannanoa Journal, and Time for the Earth. On campus, the ELC initiated the Wellness Program (see below), and provides leadership for our campus greening efforts. (Paul Bartels)


The EcoTeam is an environmental education program employing WWC students as instructors in Buncombe County's third grade classes. The program provides needed support for science education to the schools and an important piece of experiential education to WWC environmental education students. The ELC is currently assisting 15 southeastern colleges implement EcoTeam into their programs.

ELC Internships

The highly successful internship program provides WWC students paid internships in prestigious environmental organizations in Asheville and all parts of the world. About 20 students receive ELC internships each year in a competitive process. Many complete Natural Science Research requirements or gain academic credit for their work. Upon their return, they gain valuable speaking experience both on and off campus as they deliver public presentations about their internship work.


Each year the ELC offers one or two international expeditions to educate and reconnect people to nature. These trips have been developed for alumni, public school science teachers, and friends of the college and they have included trips to the Bahamas and Ontario.


GLOBE is a program developed by the U.S. science community to engage school children in environmental science monitoring in their areas. Data is collected and submitted via the internet, and a large database of environmental information is then accessible to scientists and teachers. The ELC has become a GLOBE franchise for training teachers in this exciting experiential program.

Environmental Voices

This is a speakers bureau of WWC faculty and staff, and other colleagues that serves the Western North Carolina region.

Swannanoa Journal

This is a three minute radio program focusing on environmental themes that airs every other week on Mondays on WNCW, the local public radio station in Spindale, NC. WWC faculty and students write and deliver segments for this program.

Time for the Earth (TFTE)

TFTE is in the early development stages. It will be a national public radio product that will feature internationally recognized writers and speakers.

Electric Cart Fleet & Solar Charging Station

Over the past four years, the WWC physical plant has been using a fleet of electric golf carts to replace much of the on-campus transportation previously done by trucks, many of which were inefficient and high pollution emitters. Currently, the fleet size recently grew to 11 thanks to a grant attained by the ELC. This grant will also provide a solar charging station for the carts, creating a virtually pollution free electric cart fleet. Construction of the solar charging station is set to begin in the Fall of 2000. (Vince Anderson / John Griffith)


When the ELC first began, it funded a student-led Wellness program to promote the relationship between healthy lifestyles and a healthy planet. Students apply for funding for projects screened by a review committee. Wellness projects have included water filters for dorms, hammocks for lawns, smoking cessation programs, a meditation garden, a meditation hut, and a health fair. Funding from Wellness also helped to purchase the large greenhouse now in place in the Organic Garden (see Cowpie Café below). (Mollie McMillan)

Campus Greening Seed Grants

In October of 2000, thanks to grants from long-term friends of the college Chris and Ollie Ahrens and the ELC, a small grants program was initiated modeled after the Wellness Program. Students and a staff or faculty sponsor can apply to the ELC for grants up to $500 for sustainable projects on campus. These may include appropriate technology or environmental restoration. The first project to be funded by this program is a tree-planting proposal for the farm to enhance a stream buffer zone. (Stan Cross)

Marriott Dining Services

The college food service has a number of programs to minimize waste and improve efficiency. In addition to recycling and composting, Marriott uses non-toxic cleaning solutions. The dishwashers have automatic shut-off switches, and other equipment is monitored to eliminate unnecessary electricity consumption. (Brian O'Loughlin)

Cowpie Café

Just this September 2000, following a new student-initiated proposal, the Cowpie Café re-opened in the renovated Gladfelter Student Center. The café's new mission is to provide local , organic, and in season foods via a student-run food service striving for self-sufficiency and minimal environmental impact. Produce from our own farm and garden, especially the salad greens raised in the new garden greenhouse, is the priority. Recycling, reuse, and reduced consumption of materials will be a model for the entire community. The new Cowpie is being greeted with great enthusiasm by the campus community. It exemplifies the best of WWC campus greening. (Jen Schwager / Ann Maltby)


The number of cars on campus has been reduced by the new policy eliminating cars for first year students. A campus shuttle service to Asheville is also in operation. Over 6,000 students rode the shuttle during its first year, thus significantly reducing fuel consumption and air pollution. (Vince Anderson)

Solar Light

The solar light installed in March of 1996 next to the boat shed in the DeVries parking lot, should reduce air pollution and pay for itself over the course of its lifetime. Currently the ELC is beginning a cost/benefit assessment of this light to verify these projections. If the light lives up to its expectations, solar lighting could expand on campus. (John Griffith)

Mitigation of Construction Impacts

Following the successful capital campaign completed in 1998, an extensive construction period began which raised concerns about erosion and other environmental impacts. In the division of responsibilities between the Land Use Planning and Business Affair committees, Business Affairs had responsibility for monitoring current construction projects on campus for compliance with college policies. Beginning in the fall of 1999, the BAC asked Environmental Studies and Biology faculty to serve as consultants on the environmental impact of College activities. In the spring of 2000 members of the BAC agreed to be available for committee meetings during the Summer, even though many of them were not contractually obliged to do so. Three members of the committee, Stephanie Anderson, Tom LaMuraglia, and John Casey, volunteered to pay special attention to the environmental impact of the construction during the summer of 2000 and to provide information and, where appropriate, advice to the Vice President for Business Affairs and Director of the Physical Plant. The continuation of construction related impacts, however, still suggests the need for tighter environmental regulations in agreements with contractors. (John Casey)

Paint Crew

In the past, WWC used an extensive amount of oil-based paint. Oil based paints contribute volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the air as they evaporate, and much more is derived from the Varsol paint thinner used in cleaning. As little as four years ago, a 55 gallon drum of Varsol was being used every one or two months, and the residue had to be hauled away to be treated. The Paint Crew now rarely uses oil-based paint, and Varsol is no longer needed. In addition, the Paint Crew currently purchases paint in five gallon buckets which can be cleaned and reused on campus for multiple purposes. They also operate a shed for properly processing paint cans and other wastes for legal disposal in the county landfill. (Scott Boyd)

Witherspoon Science Building

Sustainable building design is a concrete way to demonstrate our commitment to environmentally healthy practices. Our first major experiment in this area is demonstrated by the Witherspoon Science Building, nearing completion at the time of this writing. Witherspoon's heating costs are minimized by a passive solar system with south facing aspect and windows designed to maximize winter heat gain and minimize summer heat gain. Fume hoods are controlled by a variable air ventilation system that is designed to minimize the loss of heated and cooled air. Extensive use of natural lighting and energy efficient low-wattage fluorescent lights reduces electrical lighting expenses. (Dean Kahl)


As further indication of our commitment to sustainable building design, we are planning a dormitory that will showcase current best practices to optimize environmental and human health. This dormitory will serve as a live-in educational facility for environmentally conscious students, and educational tours for visitors and college courses will be developed. The current projection is that construction of this dorm will begin in the fall of 2002. (Louise Solomon)

Values Inventory

It is relatively difficult for most people to articulate their own values or to prioritize them, but that is exactly what must be done in order to make values-driven decisions. Over the last several years, students in Philosophy courses have been experimenting with using decks of cards, each of which represents a set of values, to sort out their most important values, prioritize them, and then practice using those priorities to make decisions. In academic year 1998-1999, two students on the Environmental Leadership Center Crew - Jessie Lehmann and Scott Baker - took this system to several First Year Seminars. In the summer of 1999, John Casey developed a new set of cards especially targeted at environmental values and these will be used in several Philosophy courses during the 1999 - 2000 academic year. One method of using the cards seems to be especially productive. Participants are divided into small teams and asked to sort the whole deck of cards into five piles representing a scale from most to least valued, then to reduce each pile to no more than five cards, and finally to prioritize the remaining "most valued" and "highly valued" piles. The teams are asked to do this task first on behalf of Warren Wilson College - i.e., using the values demonstrated by the actions they believe are sanctioned or allowed here, and then for themselves as a team. Comparison of the results has prompted very good discussion of the nature of environmental ethics and of the climate conducive to value driven community decisions. The next step is to try out the card system in more classes, work crews, and larger venues. App17 (John Casey)