Facilitating a Volley: The Formation of the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition

What’s important to understand about the formation of the Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) is that from the beginning it was driven equally by student interest and faculty, staff, and administrative support. Unlike playing a competitive game, of say, tennis, where the object is to hit the ball to your opponent so they can not return it, what transpired between the administratcion and students involved in the SCC was a friendly volley of ideas and goals played out so that each party could return the previous hit with more grace and accuracy-not opponents but eager participants from different UMF bodies, ready to facilitate each other. Thus, a volley that gained momentum and never stopped.

President Theo Kalikow has been committed to and absolutely supportive of the SCC. It was her participation in the first Maine-wide green campus conference at the College of the Atlantic in 2001 which sparked the formation of a green campus group. The UMF SCC, first called the Green Campus Coalition, was officially formed in 2001. The original commitments the SCC made then still hold strong today-to promote campus environmental sustainability in at least three related ways:

  1. Increase the energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts of the campus infrastructure
  2. Organize ways for students, faculty and staff to collaborate on projects that contribute to a campus culture that embraces environmental principles
  3. Organize and sponsor events that raise awareness and provide inspiration for an Earth-friendly philosophy.

One of the first major projects the SCC focused on was the building of the LEED certified Education Center. Again President Kalikow landed the ball in the SCC court encouraging their involvement in researching green designs for the new building. Faculty and student members were given seats on the architect selection and building committees. Environmental Science major Ryan Moore played a key role in educating the campus and community about green design principles.

Since that first major partnership between students and administration the SCC has been successful in all of its projects as a result of collaboration with faculty, staff, administration and the community. SCC student members have initiated a number of worthwhile projects that they could not have seen put into action had it not been for enthusiasm and cooperation from Facilities Management, Aramark Dining Services and Student Life. The most shining example of this is the Maine Climate Summit held in April 2009 at UMF. Each year a different college or university in Maine holds a sustainability conference for all Maine college students to attend. After attending the 2008 conference at Colby, UMF SCC members came back with the idea to hold it at UMF. The administration was in support; however, there was no money for the conference in the budget. A group of dedicated SCC members took it on anyway, spending the whole year fundraising, and organizing every detail for the conference-from keynote speakers to parking, meals, and sleeping arrangements. They had to work with all groups on campus to make it happen, and they did! It was a wonderful conference with interesting speakers, live music, excellent meals provided by Aramark, which included local foods, and no glitches-thanks to cooperation and support from the administration, faculty, Student Life and Facilities Management.

The SCC is a well established and successful group on campus. They continually generate new and important ideas, and because of UMF’s fundamental interest in sustainability and environmental issues these ideas are put into practice all across the board. UMF includes environmental topics in its curriculum, not just in the Natural Sciences department, but in every department. This year (2009) Valerie Huebner, co-coordinator of the SCC, has become UMF’s first official Sustainability Coordinator. Also, the SCC now hires a number or paid student members each year. This year the coordinators interviewed 25 people for 8 positions! UMF is an environment which facilitates the growth and momentous action of a group like the SCC.

To read more about the projects SCC has worked on see below, and projects they are working on, click here.

Past Events

  • UMF Greenhouse Gas Audit (2005-2007) – Drew Barton, along with two students, a colleague, and the UMF Facilities Management Department carried out a quantification of GHG emissions of UMF. This was one of the first steps in the ACUPCC commitment signed by President Kalikow, to develop a plan to achieve carbon neutrality at UMF.
  • Arboretum Renovation (2006) – Funded by a Project Canopy grant awarded through the Maine Forestry Service, the renovations included: planting an orchard at the UMF Honors House on Lincoln Street, tree planting and landscaping at UMF’s Swett-Winter Daycare, and re-tagging the arboretum’s existing trees.
  • Maine Climate Summit (2009) – A two day conference that takes place annually at a different college or university in Maine. The UMF SCC hosted this year’s conference, which included, two keynote speakers, several panel discussions, lots of opportunities to network, great meals featuring local ingredients, and live music! To read more about this event, click here.
  • Good Jobs/Clean Environment: How Can Maine Make it Happen? (2007-2008)- A series of common-time discussions hosted by the SCC where all guest speakers addressed the focus question. Speakers included: Beth Nagusky, a force in environmental politics in Maine for decades, Donald Zillman, president of U Maine Presque Isle, and a panel of UMF faculty.
  • Bill Mckibben (2008) – Author and environmental activist, Bill McKibben, who founded 350.org, came to speak at UMF in March. His talk addressed the increasing awareness of the threat of global climate change and encouraged people to take action. To find out about 350.org, click here.
  • Residence Hall Energy Challenge (2008) – In collaboration with Student Life and Facilities Management the SCC sponsored a competition among the residence halls to see who could use the least energy. A portion of the energy savings in each residence hall went to the students, a portion went to energy-saving investments, and the rest resulted in savings for UMF

Partnerships

  • Town of Farmington (2008-2009)- with cooperation and help from the town manager, UMF SCC student and faculty members are working on an audit of the GHG emissions from the Farmington town municipality
  • Keep ME Warm (2007 & 2008)- Keep ME Warm is an annual state-wide initiative which organizes teams of volunteers to winterize the homes of area residents in need of it. The SCC has organized teams to participate for the past two years
  • Aramark Dining Services – The SCC has partnered with Chris Kinney, head of dining services at UMF, to minimize waste. These efforts have resulted in: 1) food waste now composted by the Sandy River Recycling Association 2) getting rid of trays, which reduced the amount of annual food waste by 34% 3) including more local foods on the menu 4) putting on a local-foods Thanksgiving meal
  • Western Mountains Alliance (WMA) –WMA takes interns from the SCC, and UMF in general, giving them an opportunity to focus on local food and energy issues in the western Maine counties
  • Mallet Elementary School Food Composting Project
    Andrea Freed is coordinated a project with Mallett Elementary School in Farmington, to compost school meal food wastes in collaboration with Ron Slater, who also picks up UMF dining services compost. K-3 students were re-taught to separate their garbage into different collecting bins. Several SCC students helped get this program off the ground, which involved working directly with the Malletteers in separating their garbage

Conferences Attended

  • Green Campus Summit @ Colby(2005)
  • 2nd Annual Gathering of Campus Sustainability Practitioners in the Northeast @ Harvard (2006)
  • Annual Northeast Regional Sustainable Campus Conference (2007)
  • Powershift (2007)
  • Maine Climate Summit (held at UMF, 2009)

 

Our meeting time is every Friday during the semester at 11:45 in Education Center 113