In 2000, the College created a standing committee, the Environmental Advisory Committee, to advise the College on environmental issues. The committee includes:

  • Students: The committee shall consist of three (3) voting student members, one of whom shall be a member of the CSA senate, and one non-voting student, who will assume the position of co-chair and secretary of the committee. Interested students shall apply for these positions and be appointed by the CSA liaison and the ENTS 5th year Educational Associate.
  • Faculty: Three (3) faculty shall serve as voting members of the committee, including the Director of the Environmental and Technology Studies Program or an individual he or she designates. Two (2) other faculty members are appointed by the Faculty Affairs Committee for two-year terms.
  • Staff: Three (3) members of the college staff shall serve as voting members of the committee, one of whom shall be the Director of Facilities. The other two (2) members are appointed by the Vice President and Treasurer of the College.
  • Co-chairs: The ENTS 5th year Educational Associate shall serve as co-chair (facilitator). The ENTS 5th year Educational Associate will be a non-voting member. The other co-chair will be a student. Interested students shall apply for this non-voting position and be appointed by the CSA liaison and the ENTS 5th year Educational Associate. Preference will go to a previous member of the committee or a person who is familiar with the EAC through voluntary involvement.

Committee’s Function

Discuss sustainability issues of direct impact and importance to the college

  • Discuss and advise (report to Vice President and Treasurer of the College) on college plans for building, landscaping, and construction
  • Serve as a forum for campus concern about sustainability issues relating to the college
  • Incorporate sustainable and environmental considerations into future plans for the college
  • Collaborate with environmental organizations on campus, in Northfield, and beyond.

Carleton College Environmental Statement of Principles

“Carleton College recognizes that it exists as part of interconnected communities that are affected by personal and institutional choices. We are dedicated, therefore, to investigating and promoting awareness of the current and future impact of our actions in order to foster responsibility for these human and natural communities. Carleton strives to be a model of environmental stewardship by incorporating ideals of sustainability into the operations of the College and the daily life of individuals.”
Approved by the Environmental Advisory Committee, 12 April 2001
Endorsed by Board of Trustees, Buildings and Grounds Committee, 18 May 2001

Energy Conservation and Green Energy Production

Since 1995, the College has aggressively pursued energy conservation measures such as conversion to T-8 bulbs and electronic ballasts, variable frequency drives (VFD), replacing small horsepower motors, and installing a Building Automation System on most HAVC equipment, etc. In an effort to use green energy, the College is collaborating with the Northfield School District in the development of wind power in the community. The consortium hopes it will be able to develop two 1.5 megawatt wind turbines close to the community by the end of 2003. One 1.5 megawatt turbine will supply 100 percent of the energy for the Northfield school district and the other will supply 40 percent of the electrical energy needs of Carleton College.

Food Composting

A student formed environmental group, Student Organization for Protecting the Environment (SOPE), has assisted students with composting food waste. Over 300 students live in college-owned off-campus housing with kitchen facilities. SOPE developed and organized the effort to funnel all food waste from the off-campus housing into area composting barrels. SOPE provided environmental degradable bags and airtight containers for each of the individual houses to store the food waste for about a week. The students then place these composting bags into neighborhood barrels. These barrels are then emptied by college grounds staff and brought to a central campus composting location. Once the composting cycle is completed, the college grounds crew recycles the compost into flower beds on campus or the student organic garden groups use the soil for organic gardens.

Paper Recycling

Along with the normal recycling of white and colored paper that has been common on campus for years, a tree-free student organization asked the College to use only recycled paper for all paper uses. It was the intent of the student group to entice the College into using 100 percent recycled papers. However, the fully recycled paper jammed in the copier machines and the computer printers. As a compromise, the College selected 60 percent recycled content paper for the interim until the older printers and copiers could be retired.


In the past year, the College has implemented three different sustainable solutions to provide initial cleaning of storm water run-off from parking lots.

The first example was expansion of an existing parking area where a vegetated swale was installed to filter storm water before it enters the storm system. The swale was planted with Big Bluestem, a native prairie grass that is tolerant of moist conditions and creates a dense mass of roots and foliage. In addition to providing a primary filtering for storm run-off, the planting will screen the view of the parking, and provide a vegetative connection on campus to the native plantings in the Arboretum and the adjacent creek corridor. The monoculture planting was selected to provide a dramatic aesthetic statement throughout the year.

The second example was the construction of another new parking lot where a vegetative swale is utilized to filter storm water prior to draining into a detention pond. The parking lot is adjacent to the Cannon River, so the double filtering is important due to the proximity to this protected natural feature.

And thirdly, at the Arboretum Office, a small experimental gravel parking lot was constructed. Matting composed of a plastic matrix provides stability and keeps the gravel in place. The gravel and the permeable base material allow storm water to percolate into the ground rather than surface drain. If this treatment is successful, additional lots will be constructed with this system in the future.

Recycled Paint

The Facilities Maintenance Office began using a flat finish recycled paint made up of recycled latex. The recycled paint is being used in campus residential housing units. Amazon Environmental, Inc. (AEI) located in Roseville, Minnesota, remanufactures the paint. AEI is a leading provider of latex paint recycling services. Their latex paint recycling facility accepts all types of water-based paint waste. The reusable quality materials are then manufactured into high quality paints for consumer and commercial use.

The primary method used to ensure a high quality recycled paint product is the careful sorting of individual containers. Each container is opened and inspected to determine if the paint is usable. Typically only 50% of the paint received at their facility meets the criteria for paint re-use. Using recycled paint not only provides a market for a former waste stream, but saves money. Each can of paint is between 50%-70% less expensive than the virgin product.