Leading the way to sustainabliity!

“Global warming is a defining challenge of our time. Human activities are largely responsible for the problem, and working together humans have the capacity to solve the problem. That means taking serious action today to stop adding global warming pollution to the atmosphere. Wesleyan College is committed to leading the way.”  -- Ruth A. Knox, 2007

In 2007, Wesleyan College President Ruth Knox committed to reducing and eventually neutralizing all of the College’s global warming emissions, and accelerating the research and educational efforts to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. The pledge came with Knox’s signing of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), joining the leaders of 400 other institutions across the country.

The ACUPCC is the first such effort by any major sector of society to set climate neutrality – not just a reduction – as its target. This undertaking by America’s colleges and universities is inspired by efforts like the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, and other collective efforts by states and businesses. MORE about ACUPCC.

Since joining the ACUPCC, Wesleyan has been developing a comprehensive long-range Climate Action Plan (CAP) to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on the campus and to ensure that the curriculum includes related educational and research efforts. Immediately, the College formed a Sustainability Committee of faculty, staff, and students to work collaboratively toward developing the long-range CAP and initiating various short-term plans.

The climate action measures in the CAP include energy efficiency work that the College currently has underway or planned, plus additional climate action measures proposed by the Sustainability Committee. The CAP frames the energy and climate action measures in the appropriate context – that is, historical campus emissions, a campus-wide greenhouse gas reduction target, and an emissions trajectory – and provides return on investment analysis of the major measures being implemented. Read Wesleyan's CAP.

As an initial component of developing the long-range plan, the College assessed its impact on the environment, or calculated its carbon footprint. The committee measured energy consumption of the College and compiled a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for the period 2007-2008. The data collected provides an essential foundation for addressing Wesleyan’s climate impact and serves as a crucial first step toward comprehensive climate action efforts in achieving environmental sustainability. In 2007-2008, according to the inventory, Wesleyan produced 6,989 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, with electricity accounting for 81% of our overall emissions at 5,688 MT eCO2. Emission source categories associated with Wesleyan’s operations are purchased electricity, stationary sources, transportation, agriculture, and solid waste disposal.

Although long-range strategic plans for sustainability are still being finalized, College administrators agreed to take some steps right away, like purchasing only Energy Star certified products where those ratings exist and attempting to renovate one of the major academic buildings, Taylor Hall, as a LEED Certified green building. Some of the work on that historic facility, which was built in 1928, has already been completed, including replacing its original windows with modern, energy efficient ones.

During 2007, Wesleyan officials met with several firms who specialize in energy efficiency and selected one, LincHays, to help the College map out a strategy for upgrading lighting, HVAC systems, and other equipment to lower our energy consumption. During the past year, the College completed the first phase of a comprehensive energy efficiency project, spending more than $3 million to make repairs to chillers throughout the campus and install new air conditioning units, lighting, state-of-the-art DDC controls, and a new steamer in our kitchen, resulting in reduced energy use, lower repair expenses, and a significant improvement in comfort, efficiency and reliability for the residence halls and academic buildings. Phase II of the LincHays project will cost approximately $2 million more, and Wesleyan is working diligently to raise the necessary funds to complete this important work.

During the past year, members of the Sustainability Committee made contacts with many consultants, including energy experts, local recycling firms, and foresters, all in an effort to find partners who are most likely to help us develop a plan that works and that we can reasonably expect to implement. We have secured estimates and proposals for solar support systems to reduce our reliance on electricity and metering systems to measure the energy usage of each building. Various consultants have visited our campus to help audit our energy consumption and offer advice about alternative energy saving measures, such as geothermal energy, wind energy, solar energy, and water conservation.

Currently, 100% of the College’s electricity supply comes from Georgia Power. While exploring solar power is worthwhile in the long-term because of Macon’s geographic location, short-term reductions in energy consumption are anticipated through improved infrastructure and education. Options for obtaining greenhouse gas emission offsets from our natural acreage and planting pine trees will also be explored. Recently, Wesleyan received a $16,000 grant from the 2009 Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program to be used in evaluating how our forested acreage could provide carbon offsets for the rest of the campus. A community-wide event, Tree Hug & Measure, during November was designed to inventory and measure the trees in the College’s arboretum.

A significant component of Wesleyan’s ongoing commitment to sustainability includes goals to maintain the College’s beautiful landscaping. To appropriately care for the priceless green space that we are blessed to have, Wesleyan is developing a long-term plan for our landscaping, including how to replace trees that we lose, anticipate losses and plan for them in advance (like the aging cherry trees), and maintain what we have. Learn more about Wesleyan's Arboretum!

Signing the Climate Commitment inspired departments across campus to incorporate new business practices that conserve energy and reduce waste, such as online admission applications, direct deposit of employee payroll, digital student handbooks and academic catalogues, and new printer management procedures to restrict excessive use of campus printers. As a community, the campus evaluated its recycling practices and adopted procedures to encourage greater participation, like placing sorting receptacles for paper, plastic, and aluminum on each floor in each student residence hall as well as in the library and in each classroom and administration building. The Wesleyan community recycled over 7,500 pounds of materials in the first quarter of 2011, including 4,380 lbs of mixed paper!

In May of 2009, Wesleyan adopted a Responsible Purchasing Policy as one of the tangible actions required for compliance with the ACUPCC. This policy guides departments and vendors to purchase environmentally preferable equipment and services whenever available and financially possible, and applies to a wide spectrum of products including appliances, HVAC equipment, electric motors, office equipment, lighting and signage, cleaning chemicals and paper, and consumer electronics. Under the policy, departments agree to research options and allow certifying organizations such as Energy Star®, EPEAT™, and Green Seal® to help guide purchasing decisions.

A centerpiece of Wesleyan's commitment to involvement and investment in sustainability by the campus and community is the 100-acre Wesleyan Arboretum. Significant recent enhancements to this natural area and educational resource include construction of the Ellen Ann Edenfield Pavilion, refurbishment of the Dice R. Anderson cabin, and restoration of the extensive trail system.

Wesleyan College has been selected by The US Green Building Council and The Princeton Review as one of America’s top rated Green Colleges. The College is included in the inaugural Guide to Green Colleges, published on Earth Day (April 22, 2010), and featured in a directory of environmentally responsible colleges.

Wesleyan College is among the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges according to the Sierra Club. The organization selected Wesleyan for inclusion in its fifth annual ranking of America’s Coolest Schools, a feature in the September/October 2011 issue of Sierra magazine. Wesleyan is the only college or university in Georgia to appear on the list.

Initiatives Inspired by the Climate Commitment!
In addition to the College’s strategic plans to reach carbon neutrality, many faculty, staff, and student-organized initiatives continue to gain momentum and increase awareness about sustainability issues both on and off campus. Get involved and Go Green! with us at Wesleyan by supporting some of our related environmental projects!

Wesleyan claims Macon’s first Gold LEED Certification project
Wesleyan College received Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification for its newly renovated Taylor Hall. The award, from the Green Building Certification Institute, recognizes the building’s energy efficiency and the sustainability of the design and building materials used in its construction.