In confirmation of Hamilton College's commitment to maintaining and developing policies that are environmentally sound, President Joan Hinde Stewart signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment on Thursday, April 26, prior to former Vice President Al Gore's arrival on campus. Gore is the Sacerdote Great Names Series speaker at the college's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
"As an institution of higher learning, we look toward the future – both the future of our students and the future of our world," President Stewart said. "Planning responsibly for that future means maintaining a healthy environment. Through its academic, construction, and purchasing programs, and through faculty and student research, Hamilton has demonstrated its commitment to environmental protection. We take pleasure today in formalizing that commitment."
The Presidents Climate Commitment is a project developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). It provides a framework and support for America's colleges and universities to become climate neutral, to achieve a net-zero impact on the Earth's climate. In signing the commitment, each college president pledges to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. A few examples of the policies that may be included in a plan are that all new campus construction be built to the equivalent of U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver standards, that an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy be applied, and that at least 15 percent of electricity consumption be from renewable sources.
Participants must also make all college action plans, inventories and periodic progress reports publicly available by providing them to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for posting and dissemination. More than 180 college and university presidents have signed this agreement.
Hamilton is currently a member of the EPA's Green Power Partnership. The college has recently committed to purchasing 10 percent of its energy from green energy sources. All campus building and renovation projects are now designed with a focus on LEED certification guidelines. The campus is home to one of only 12 LEED-certified buildings in New York. Hamilton students also operate recycling and food salvage programs. A multi-disciplinary major in environmental studies offers students the opportunity to pursue this subject from many vantage points. The college community continuously researches additional conservation initiatives.