We have been and continue to be on a journey at Goshen College to go green. The roots of our ecological stewardship journey are Christian faith and the belief that God calls us to care for all of creation. Read on to learn how we are encouraging sustainable practices and reducing use of fossil fuels on campus.
In 2013, President Jim Brenneman announced that Goshen College would begin voluntarily purchasing 100% of electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. This single action reduces the college’s carbon footprint by about 45 percent.
Read more about Goshen College’s commitment to renewable energy.
In recent years Goshen College has converted 12 acres of its approximate 55 acres of lawn to native landscaping, establishing several areas of low-profile native grasses and perennial wildflowers. In addition to creating a more diverse landscape, this project has led to an improved habitat for birds, small mammals and insects; a reduction in mowing and chemical herbicides; less irrigation; and improved air quality.
Rieth Village is an ecological field station for undergraduate programs at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. Two cottages provide housing for up to 32 students, and a third cottage serves as the initial classroom and office building. In 2007, Rieth Village was awarded the platinum LEED certification (55 points) from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest level possible.
A 924 solar panel array on top of the Rec-Fitness Center roof completely meets the energy needs of the campus’ Church-Chapel building. As well, the SunShower Collector System is a student-driven and faculty-supported project that uses solar energy to heat the shower water in the Rec-Fitness Center.
Goshen College uses LEDs in many locations around campus, including the elevator lights and major parking lot areas. The college also has motion light sensors in many of its buildings and in outdoor lighting facilities to cut down on amount of energy used for lighting when not needed.
The college uses geothermal heat pumps for the Student Apartments, Recreation-Fitness Center, Good Library, Umble Center and a portion of the Union Building. Geothermal heat pumps use moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems.
In 2007, President Brenneman signed the President’s Climate Initiative, making Goshen College the second higher education institution in Indiana and the first Mennonite college to sign the landmark commitment to climate neutrality.
Goshen College has been honored for the third consecutive year with 2017 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.
Bike Friendly Campus (honorable mention)
Goshen College is on its way to becoming an officially certified Bike Friendly Campus. In 2016, the League of American Bicyclists gave out the Bike Friendly University (BFU) awards, including honorable mention to GC.
Goshen College has been named Indiana’s first Bee Campus USA and is just the second college in the Midwest and 27th nationally to be recognized for its work in supporting pollinators such as bees.
The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions (CSCS) is a collaborative initiative of Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee to lead Anabaptist efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change.
Read up on more of the latest sustainability news at GC!
Goshen College’s Sustainability Committee is comprised of students, faculty and staff who lead the campus in collaborative efforts to encourage sustainable practices and reduce use of fossil fuels. The committee usually has about 15 members with approximately equal numbers of faculty, students and staff, with representation from multiple academic disciplines.
The committee’s responsibilities include educating the campus community about sustainability and raising awareness of best practices, individually and collectively. These goals are achieved through special events, communications on the sustainability website and print media, making policy recommendations to college administration, and supporting student clubs and student-led sustainability initiatives. Our work is guided by the 2016 revision of the Climate Action Plan.
In 2019-20, the committee was responsible for guiding the campus through a thorough audit of our sustainability practices using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) which is managed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Goshen College is a charter member of this organization and submitted STARS reports in 2009 and 2014 achieving Bronze and Silver rankings, respectively. (Our current ranking is pending review for our 2020 submission.)