Taking Responsibility

Addressing one of the world’s most pressing problems, climate change, requires developing scientific research and taking personal responsibility for our actions. These requirements live at the heart of sustainability at Warren Wilson, where we are researching how bird migration patterns are affected by foliage growth timing changes, where we have committed to sourcing local and regional food in our cafeteria to reduce food transportation pollution, and where each individual is contributing to our zero waste challenge by dumping all food waste into our composting system on campus.

Read about some of our efforts in our Sustainable Practices Guide.

Sustainability Commitment

We acknowledge that a complex web of economic, social, cultural, spiritual, and environmental factors determine the well-being of our community.

We recognize our power as individuals, and in community, to influence these complex, interdependent relationships.

We strive to make responsible decisions that take into account the multiple dimensions of sustainability in order to ensure quality of life now and for generations to come.

A Top Sustainable College

Warren Wilson College earned a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive data on a college’s sustainability performance.

AASHE also recognized Warren Wilson College as a Top Sustainable College in the 2020 Sustainable Campus Index, giving us a third place rank overall out of all undergraduate institutions. They especially highlighted our civic identity framework, which prioritizes civic responsibility and sustainability as our students’ core ethos. We ranked third place in sustainable investment and finance practices as well.

Here are just some of the many ways we strive to fulfill our commitment:

  • Students Lead the Way – Students have led sustainable initiatives for years, including a leading role planning the EcoDorm and divesting the College’s endowment from fossil fuels.
  • Fossil Fuel Divestment – In 2015, Warren Wilson College became one of the roughly 25 U.S. colleges and universities to pledge to divest totally from fossil fuels within 5 years. We are happy to report that the College reached 100% divestment of our portfolio in 2020.
  • Responsible Investment – As Warren Wilson College divested, new investments were made in companies that demonstrate commitment to environmental sustainability; community and economic development; social diversity in hiring; and transparency and accountability in corporate governance, among other traits. Our efforts were even used by the Intentional Endowments Network as a case study for how colleges can invest sustainably.
  • Preserving Habitat – Warren Wilson College’s central campus has been named a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, a North Carolina Native Plant Sanctuary, and a certified Monarch Butterfly Waystation through Monarch Watch.  We’ve also been named a “Tree Campus USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation for several years running.
  • Zero Waste Initiative –In 2017, Warren Wilson wrote a Zero Waste Initiative for the College to divert 90% of all waste from the landfill by 2032 with additional efforts to reach 100% as technology becomes available.

Orr Cottage

The Green Walkabout

Students created the Green Walkabout Project; a self-guided tour of the sustainability features on campus, including green buildings, waste management, landscaping, stormwater, land use, and agriculture.

Have a look at some of the interpretive signs around campus that tell the story of sustainable practices in action: Admission Office, EcoDorm, FarmForests, GardenLandscaping, Recycling Program, Sustainability