Beloit College recently achieved a bronze rating from the STARS Report (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Reporting System) for its sustainability efforts during the 2013-14 academic year. The report—which is derived from 70 different self-reporting credits—is becoming the standard method for gathering information about sustainability on college campuses nationwide.
The college further committed to ‘going green’ this January, with the release of an extensive three-year Sustainability Plan. Goals outlined in the document fall under three categories: campus and community engagement, operations, and planning and evaluation. From a practical standpoint, this means increasing sustainability literacy by engaging with the campus community, as well as improving the resource efficiency of campus operations. The college hopes to reduce water and energy usage, while upping recycling efforts and decreasing food waste, among other objectives.
Strong interdepartmental cooperation is key in making sure Beloit’s vision for a sustainable campus becomes a reality. Recent triumphs include the student-run Beloit Urban Garden (BUG), which supplies Bon Appétit, the campus food service provider, with sustainably grown produce. The college also gives students the opportunity to work on campus or community-based sustainability projects for eight weeks over the summer with their Sustainability Fellows program. Each student works at a single site with the mentorship and guidance of a faculty member. Previous fellows have harvested crops at BUG, helped to restore the nearby Chamberlin Springs nature preserve, and developed a sustainable system for watering the college’s sports fields.
Looking forward, Beloit is likely to keep climbing in the STARS rankings as it gets ready to break ground on a new student union and athletic space. Renovations on the “Powerhouse,” a former coal power plant along the Rock River, will be completed in 2018. The structure is set to be the first building in the United States to use geothermal energy from a river to create a radiant surface that will maintain temperatures year-round.