The e-van charges up at the solar electric car charging station on the north end of campus.The e-van charges up at the solar electric car charging station on the north end of campus.Students, staff, and faculty are involved in developing the policies and plans that govern the college. Below are examples of how we put human ecological and sustainability principles into practice on campus.

  • Break Free From Plastic Campus Pledge

    College of the Atlantic’s All College Meeting (ACM) voted to endorse the P.L.A.N. #BreakFreeFromPlastic Pledge on April 10, 2019. President Darron Collins signed the pledge in May 2019, making COA the first college in the US to commit to the Break Free From Plastic Pledge.  


    1. Establishing a purchasing policy which, by 2025, eliminates campus and campus food vendor procurement of all non-essential, non-compostable, single-use disposable plastics. This includes restrictions on:
    • Single-use plastic utensils
    • Single-use plastic straws* & stirrers
    • Single-use plastic food serviceware (cups, plates, bowls, trays, sauce dishes, lids, etc)
    • Single-use plastic clamshells & to-go containers
    • All polystyrene (Styrofoam™ and similar) food service products
    • Single-use plastic-lined cups and bowls (coffee cups, soup bowls, snack boats, etc)
    • Single-use plastic-wrapped condiments, sauces, and seasonings (butter, jelly, peanut butter, creamers, sugars, salt, pepper, etc)
    • Individually-packaged items with bulk alternatives (napkins, oyster crackers, individually wrapped fresh baked goods, mints, toothpicks, etc)
    • Single-use hot beverage packets unnecessarily packaged in plastic (K-Cups, plastic-wrapped tea bags, etc)
    • Plastic shopping bags

    Note: The following “solutions” are not acceptable under this pledge:

    • Incineration (“waste-to-energy”) as a “recycling” option
    • Food-contaminated, “recyclable” single-use plastics (Plastic that has come into contact with food is typically no longer recyclable, regardless of the original plastic material, e.g. plastic clamshells)
    • “Biodegradable” plastic options that are not certified compostable**

    * Accessibility should be at the forefront of food-service vendors’ efforts when working towards restricting single-use disposable plastic. Implemented policies should restrict disposable products while accommodating all users of the system, including people who have different abilities, dietary restrictions, financial limitations, or other needs. A variety of voices should be included at the decision-making table to consider diverse needs and limitations. In no situation should a “ban” on a plastic item, such as plastic straws, supercede the needs of individuals.

    ** “All compostable products should be certified as conforming to ASTM or other international standards in order to prevent greenwashing, and to ensure that the products do not create problems for composters or the environment. Meeting the ASTM standards (D6400 or D6868) requires individual ingredients to be tested for biodegradability (consumed by microorganism), and the finished product to disintegrate (physically break down during composting), as well as be tested for plant toxicity and heavy metals. Certification in the U.S. is provided by BPI, The Biodegradable Products Institute.” 

    1. Due to the present lack of viable alternatives, and other barriers to removal, the following single-use plastic items are presently excluded from the above restrictions. However, College of the Atlantic commits to keeping an eye towards plastic-free alternatives in future procurement decisions and policies regarding these items:
    • Pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items (chip bags, granola bar wrappers, candy bar wrappers, water/soda bottles, toiletries, etc)***
    • Plastic trash and recycling bags
    • Plastic wrap for use during food prep (this does not refer to individually wrapped food items, as noted above)
    • Plastic and polystyrene (Styrofoam™) packaging from incoming orders
    • Single-use plastics used in academic settings (e.g. lab equipment)
    • Single-use plastics necessary for health or safety purposes (e.g. medical plastics)

    *** Accessibility should be at the forefront of food-service vendors efforts when working towards restricting pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items. In locations where fresh, local, and/or unpackaged food or water is unavailable, food security and accessibility are paramount.  While these items are a major source of plastic waste on campus, we recognize that infrastructure shifts will need to occur to ensure that food options are still available and accessible to all before pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items are restricted and/or removed.

    1. Investment in education, resources, and infrastructure to assist in the Plastic-Free Campus transition. This includes:
    • Education on plastics and College of the Atlantic’s commitment to plastic-free alternatives for all incoming and current students, staff, faculty, and, if possible, on-campus contractors and community members.
    • Expanding resources and infrastructure for compost collection, institutional reuse, repair and sharing opportunities, and general waste reduction practices. Possible examples include: water bottle refill stations, bulk laundry detergent, bulk and package free snack options, reusable menstrual product options, and reusable to-go container programs.  
    • Adjusting procurement guidelines to encourage investment in durable and useful products across campus departments. This also applies to promotional and giveaway items.

  • Discarded Resources and Material Management

    Approved by the All College Meeting on May 4, 2022

    1. Introduction

    College of the Atlantic (COA) recognizes human activities have altered Earth’s systems and acknowledges that the effect of our resource consumption on the planet is greater than we can sustain. In 2015, the European Environmental Agency pointed out that humans’ “use of material resources has increased ten-fold since 1900 and is set to double again by 2030” (European Environment Agency. (2015). Waste Prevention In Europe - The Status In 2014. Retrieved from /EUR/ViewPublication-Start?PublicationKey=THAL15006) and that the “escalating demand may jeopardize access to some essential resources and cause environmental harm.” The problem of overconsumption and uneven distribution of resources is fundamentally rooted in the increase of resource wastage and pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 report shows that 42% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions are a result of our unsustainable production, consumption, and disposal of resources and is therefore a core issue of the 21st century (“Sustainable Materials Management.” (2012): n. pag. Sustainable Material Management: The Road Ahead. US EPA, 2009.Retrieved from, accessed Jan 2020).

    COA’s educational philosophy is human ecology: a field that seeks to “understand and improve upon the complexities that connect human beings to their built, social, and natural environments” (, accessed Jan 2020). In this vein, COA has carried out sustainability policies and initiatives to reduce wastage and align the school’s practices with its educational philosophy. These efforts have involved, but are not limited to, a zero waste graduation in 2005, a non-packaged water policy, the Earth Charter, and the Break Free from Plastic pledge. However, as of 2022, COA has a long way to go to become zero waste, as defined in the Principles and Definitions section of this policy.

    COA recognizes its roles and responsibilities as a member of the local community, the state of Maine, and the world. Chief among those responsibilities is environmental and social stewardship. The College acknowledges the need to discard resources in order to function, but at the same time, recognizes that those materials should not be wasted, but recovered. The College will also take responsibility to reduce its overall resource consumption. This document sets out COA’s vision and guiding principles in regard to Material Management; the end goal is minimizing discarded materials produced by the operations, maintenance, and daily activities of the College.


    2. Aim of Policy

    The aim of this policy is to support and improve College of the Atlantic’s discarded resources and material management, which affects all campus operations and COA-sponsored events. It will address the College’s resource consumption and disposal by guiding the community in improving its reduction and diversion rates of discarded resources.

    COA is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship, and will implement sound Material Management and Zero Waste practices through resource conservation, reduced resource consumption, environmentally and socially responsible purchasing, and discarded resource diversion practices and opportunities in accordance with a Zero Waste framework and the College’s observed needs.


    3. Principles and Definitions

    Zero Waste is defined by the Zero Waste Alliance (2020) as a goal for social, environmental, and economic justice.

    “Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharge to land, water, or air that threatens the environment or human health.” (Zero Waste Definition. Zero Waste Alliance. Retrieved from, accessed March 2020.)

    COA’s twelve Zero Waste principles are: reduce, reuse, repair, redesign, repurpose, replenish, research, reach-out, refuse, reconsider, remember, and recycle (The 12Rs are inspired by the 9Rs developed by Chintan, Environmental Action and Research Group. The prefix “re-” implies involved and continued action, and emphasizes COA’s position as a dynamic institution which has the power to engage with the world. These principles will guide the COA community in recognizing and reconsidering our consumption and disposal of resources as interactions with the world around us, and changing our actions accordingly.

    “Waste” is a word that carries associations of loss, excess, disposability, and valuelessness. In this policy, waste is not used to describe the physical resources discarded on campus, but as a verb. This is similar to the Zero Waste Movement’s use of the term “to waste”: to unnecessarily discard a resource so that its value is not realized. All materials that are discarded on campus are defined as Discarded Resources–both divertible materials, such as redeemable bottles and apple cores, and currently non-divertible materials, such as petroleum- based dental floss.

    For the purpose of this policy document, “Discarded Resource Management” and “Material Management” will refer to the procedures and practices designed to achieve a reduction in resource consumption and wastage, an increase in resource reuse, and a mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Material Management (MM) is a term that attempts to capture the full lifecycle of materials from raw resources to products, to end disposal. Discarded Resource Management (DRM) is a term specific for the management of disposed materials, and combines all forms of reduction, reuse, and diversion. Together, MM and DRM, establish a holistic approach to resource production, consumption, and disposal.

    DRM, establish a holistic approach to resource production, consumption, and disposal.


    4. Scope

    This policy applies to all College activities, infrastructure, and operations. This includes College-owned facilities and land, as well as College-sponsored activities throughout the year. The College has limited control of what individuals bring onto campus or what faculty, staff, and students consume off-campus, but will inform and promote resource stewardship and Zero Waste principles. Off-campus College activities will follow Zero Waste principles, but the College also acknowledges its interconnectedness to the global economy and local communities and recognizes the limits of local infrastructure and customs.


    5. Goal

    This policy originally set a goal of 90% diversion of discarded materials by 2025 based on the weight of the College’s discarded resources in 2015. The interim goal is 70% diversion by 2020, with additional efforts to reach 100% diversion beyond 2025 as further commitment, infrastructure, and knowledge advance.

    In the triennial review of this policy, COA recognizes that the diversion metric does not measure reduction in resource consumption and disposal, and rather incentivises recycling and composting. Therefore, we set an additional goal: 20% reduction of the weight of discarded materials by 2025 based on the College’s baseline data in 2015, and adjusted for community expansion.


    6. Action

    College of the Atlantic commits to taking the following steps in pursuit of 20% reduction of the weight of discarded materials and diverting 90% of campus-associated discarded materials from landfill and incineration by 2025 :

    • Follow the Zero Waste business principles developed by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZW Business Principles. Zero Waste International Alliance. principles/, accessed March 2020).
    • Establish a Zero Waste culture on campus by integrating it into the curriculum and other activities on campus, so members of the campus community will leave as Zero Waste leaders.

    6.1. Infrastructure:

    While needs vary among buildings and facilities, this policy shall be applied, at the minimum, in the following ways to new and existing buildings:

    • Development of infrastructure will be grounded in Material Management and Zero Waste principles.
    • COA’s outdoor campus will remain a carry-in-carry-out landscape without any public “trash” receptacles. Access to discarded resource stations will at all times be available to guests.
    • All College-owned buildings––including recently purchased off-campus College-owned student accommodation and newly constructed buildings––must have recycling and composting receptacles, signage, and discarded resource information; no recycling and composting receptacles should be farther than the closest bathroom.
    • Within College-owned buildings, no single non-diverted “trash” receptacle may exist without accompanying composting and recycling receptacles, and signage of where to find other receptacles. Although the Municipal Review Committee contract with Fiberight would allow in theory for single-stream recycling, it is vital that the landfill, compost, and all recycling receptacles remain separate in order to maintain the Zero Waste principles of this institution. The educational value of multi-stream recycling is immense: separating materials requires intentionality, whilst creating a habit of recycling in the COA community. Most importantly, multi-stream recycling maintains the standard of recycling - ensuring that which is discarded can be recycled. Keeping the discarded resource receptacles separate will help COA as an institution reach its Zero Waste goals.
    • All kitchens must have composting and recycling receptacles.
    • The campus must dedicate a space for reuse, repair, and storage of discarded resources.
    • All individual offices and dormitory bedrooms are private spaces in which the policy infrastructure does not apply.

    6.2. Management:

    Building a Zero Waste culture necessitates reduced consumption and disposal, sustainable purchasing, analyses of entire material lifecycles, encouragement of extended producer responsibility, material reuse, product repair, and disposal diversion. COA shall, at a minimum, continue at the 2016 level of discarded resource and material management efforts such as facilitating move-in and move-out support for each academic year and having compost available across campus for all community members. Each office and facility will take responsibility in developing its respective commitments to the above.

    6.3. Planning:

    A framework for discarded resource reduction and material management will be created by the Administrative Dean/Chief Financial Officer and Director of Buildings and Grounds in collaboration with staff, students, and faculty before the end of December 2022. The framework will guide the efforts of each office and facility, as well as the faculty and student body, toward implementing this policy and meeting its goals. COA’s strategic planning efforts, both the campus plan and institutional plan, must comply with the Discarded Resource and Material Management Policy. Any new building space or renovation to existing spaces must follow the Sustainable Building Policy Zero Waste specifications. Specifically, building plans must align with reduction goals and diversion rates.

    In direct response to the Zero Waste ATLAS Campus Assessment from 2020 (College of the Atlantic: Zero Waste Atlas Campus Assessment 2020. Post Landfill Action Network., the framework for discarded resource reduction and material management should address the following issues:

    • Paper usage;
    • Campus procurement from surplus and recycled materials;
    • E-waste collection infrastructure;
    • Electronics repair;
    • Reusable to-go container infrastructure;
    • Food recovery program;
    • Food audits to restructure purchasing (such as purchasing of gleaned produce to reduce food waste);
    • Student move-out.

    6.4. Assessment:

    COA will track its Material Management as well as progress on goals and actions laid out in this

    • Conducting a yearly audit and data collection of discarded materials, following standards of privacy and hygiene;
    • Conduct baseline audits of recently purchased off-campus College-owned student accommodation and newly constructed buildings by December 2022;
    • Making this policy, the framework, and subsequent progress reports available to the public;
    • Revising this policy every three years.

    6.5. Reporting:

    The reporting on this policy will be a collaborative effort among students, staff, and faculty, but will be under the ultimate responsibility of the College President. COA will collect and report on the weight of non-diverted and diverted discarded materials. There should be appropriate categorization of these discarded materials, such as: (1) hazardous materials, (2) building renovation debris, (3) recyclables, (4) donated materials, (5) organic materials, (6) discarded electronics, and (7) universal goods.

    The Director of Buildings and Grounds will report data relating to COA’s discarded resource and material management practices, policy, and data to the Association for the Advancement in Higher Education (AASHE) every year using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Reporting System (STARS) or an equivalent standardized tracking tool. The Administrative Dean, Director of Buildings and Grounds, CPBC, Director of Energy Education and Management, and other staff working on sustainability issues, as appropriate, will report policy concerns and progress to CCS every year. In addition to the AASHE reporting, CCS will report every three years to ACM/Steering as part of the review of the policy, stating the progress toward Zero Waste and explaining any updates to this policy.


    7. Responsible Parties

    The president of the College is the ultimate responsible party of implementing and updating this policy with specific areas of responsibility toward staff and governance committees on campus:

    • The Administrative Dean/Chief Financial Officer is responsible for supervising the policy and reporting compliance to the COA community, as well as creating the Discarded Resource and Material Management Framework before the end of 2022 December.
    • The Director of Discarded Resources is responsible for daily operations, discarded resource management at school events, and data collection. The President will work under the supervision of the Director of Discarded Resources to conduct the annual Fall DRMM audit.
    • The Director of Discarded Resources and the Student Life Operations Manager are jointly responsible for providing information on Zero Waste procedures to community members, including annual Zero Waste Orientation for students, staff, and faculty which cover how the Material Management and Zero Waste systems work at COA.
    • Campus Committee for Sustainability (CCS) is responsible for reviewing policy and campus-wide education. In accordance with the Earth Day Policy, CCS is responsible for sponsoring an annual Earth Day information session to give an update on the status of community material management. This includes working with administrators on the development of policies related to sustainable material management, and advising, meeting with, and being a resource for individual community members and groups engaging in material management and discarded resource disposal.
    • Campus Planning and Building Committee (CPBC) is responsible for the planning and implementation of discarded resource infrastructure.
    • The Summer Conference and Events Co-ordinator and The Dean of Institutional Advancement are responsible for educating summer guests and staff about the policy’s implications on their activities on campus, as well as ensuring Zero Waste infrastructure at all summer events.
    • Student Life is responsible for informing and following this policy within student activities.
    • The Buildings and Grounds Discarded Resources Work-Study staff will play a supporting role in the fulfilment of all the aforementioned responsibilities.
  • Wood and Paper Products Procurement Policy
    Part I

    Whereas, the United States has already lost 96% of its old growth forests. Only 22% of the world’s old growth forests are still intact. 76 countries have already lost all of their old growth forests. Eleven more countries are on the verge of losing their old growth forests.

    Whereas, old growth forests and tropical forest have important ecological values, as well as an existence value.

    Whereas, native forests everywhere are being converted into mono-cultural plantations; for example, the Southern US is losing its native hardwood forests to pine plantations, and old growth forests in Chile are being converted into eucalyptus plantations. Engineered wood products, like chipboard or OSB,  accelerate clear cutting, plantation conversion, and native forest loss. Timber companies are also experimenting with genetically engineered trees, which endanger all native forests.

    Whereas, a coalition of environmental and community groups have agreed to the following for companies to meet:

    • No wood products from old growth forests
    • No wood products from U.S. public lands
    • No new conversion of natural forests to plantations
    • No purchase of-oriented strand board (OSB) from virgin tree material
    • No genetically engineered trees

    Whereas, most the larger retail chains of wood and the top three home builders in this country have agreed to stop buying/using wood from endangered forests by 2002. As a result, a plentiful supply of wood that can be verified as not coming from endangered forest will soon become available.

    Whereas, on-going mapping and monitoring work by will provide these companies and other interested parties with detailed maps showing the location of endangered forests throughout the world. Global Forest Watch, an initiative of World Resource Institute (WRI), is creating the first worldwide monitoring network that tracks threats to forests using satellite imagery and computers to gather the data and to map it out.

    Whereas, the Certified Forest Products Council is a business association supported by environmentalists that certifies forest certification programs in an effort to unify independent certification efforts.

    Whereas, College of the Atlantic recognizes that in the next few years new technology will bring down the price of tree-free and recycled paper, as well as provide for a wide variety of new options such as old-growth free and chain of custody tracking of all wood and paper products.

    To assure that the policy is in line with current scientific knowledge on forest management. Community input will be sought from Social Environmental Action and other avenues.

    Part II: Paper Procurement

    Resolved, College of the Atlantic shall purchase paper that meets as many of the following criteria as possible, with the spirit of this policy insisting on meeting all of the following qualifications:

    1. The paper contains 50% or greater post consumer recycled content. Over the next three years, COA shall meet the following goals so that at the end of 2004, GOA shall use 100% Post Consumer Recycled or Tree Free Paper.
      • For fiscal year 2001–2092: 50% dollar value of total paper purchases contain 100% post consumer recycled or tree free content.
      • For fiscal year 2002–2003: 75% dollar value of total paper purchases contain 100% post consumer recycled or tree free content.
      • For fiscal year 2003–2004: 100% dollar value of total paper purchases contain 100% post consumer recycled or tree free content.
    2. The supplier certifies in writing that any virgin fiber in the paper is not originating from old growth forests.
    3. Is certified as Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or, if not available, Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF)
    4. The supplier certifies in writing that the paper only contains virgin fiber from a forestry operation that is certified as sustainable. The certifying organization must be an independent, non-profit, non-government certification organization accredited by the Certified Forest Products Council, such as the Forest Stewardship Council. The products provided must meet or beat these standards. (Note: If this qualification is met, then so is #2 as long as the organization is accredited by the Certified Forest Products Council.)

    NOTE: 100% post consumer recycled paper or a tree-free alternative would be the best way to meet all the aforementioned criteria.

    Resolved, College of the Atlantic shall inform all staff and faculty that copies and printouts are  double-sided; in order to save 50% paper use. Students shall be asked to do so as well and if no noticeable improvement (no drop in paper consumption on campus) is made by Winter 2002, the College shall examine the use of a per sheet of fee system for printers in order to discourage excess copying and/or to purchasing even more environmental friendly paper products.

    Resolved, Staff of the College shall immediately begin to identify any photocopiers and printers that are not capable of double-siding or having difficulty using the high content recycled paper and report such machines to the schools purchasing agent. By 2004, COA will have replaced all equipment which does not double side.

    Resolved, College of the Atlantic shall meet as many of the above criteria as possible. If a source that meets all of the required criteria is not currently available at a quality suitable for copy machines and printers (even after updating the equipment); at no time shall the College purchase paper that contains less than 30% post-consumer recycled content.

    Resolved, College of the Atlantic shall explore the use of alternative tree-free paper product.

    (Passed 2001)


  • Sustainable Building Policy

    Campus Committee for Sustainability (CCS) recognizes that any growth or new building construction could potentially put College of the Atlantic even further from its long-term environmental and climate commitments, including those towards energy and waste reduction. In order for COA to create a more holistically sustainable campus, it is imperative that the College adopt a policy for new building spaces that is consistent with its other sustainability commitments and initiatives.

    The Sustainable Building Policy formalizes and codifies COA’s commitment to sustainable design for all new building spaces on its campuses. This policy addresses a wide range of areas in sustainability, including energy use, discarded resource management, water use, and the selection of building materials, through outlining minimum standards that must be achieved through the design and operation of all new building spaces.

    The standards stated in this policy are intended to inform Campus Planning and Building Committee (CPBC), the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and the College as they develop goals for future building projects and work with each project’s architect and general contractor to ensure the sustainability of any new building space and documentation of efforts towards sustainability made during the design and construction process. These standards apply only to the design and long term operational life of the new building space, and not to the construction period . Separate standards for sustainable construction based on the Kathryn W. Davis Residence Village project have already been developed by CPBC.This policy does not replace the existing process for setting goals on new building spaces, but rather it supplements the process with standards that must continually be met for each new project.

    In this policy, a “new building space” refers to any renovation or addition made to an existing building or to the construction of any new building or structure unless otherwise specified in this document. The standards stated in this policy apply to any new building space on any COA-owned property that will either have a heating, ventilation, or air-conditioning system, connection to electricity, access to water supply, and/or the capacity to generate discarded resources.

    The implementation of these standards should maintain or increase the quality of life for those who utilize, occupy, and/or maintain the new building space.


    1. Energy Use
      • Passive solar potential must be evaluated when determining the design and orientation of a new building space.
      • All heating systems installed in a new building space must be powered by carbon-neutral fuels.
      • All electricity use within a new building space must be either offset directly with on-site renewable energy or with green purchased power & renewable energy certificates.
      • Total energy use (heating & electricity) of new building spaces (excluding renovations) must meet or exceed 30% reduction of the most current ASHRAE building standards.
      • Real-time energy use monitoring systems must be present for any new building space.
      • Appropriate locations for the potential installation of clotheslines must be identified adjacent to any new residential building space.
    2. Discarded Resource Recovery and Management
      • New building spaces must incorporate a design that encourages zero-waste practices.
      • Receptacles for recycling and reuse of materials, including organic material (compost), must be incorporated throughout the new building space.
      • Isolated waste receptacles throughout the new building space must be minimized. Whenever possible, each waste receptacle must be accompanied by a full suite of recycling and reuse receptacles.
      • Design of the new building space must facilitate the placement of easily accessible, clear, and consistent signage for all locations with discarded resource receptacles.

      • All new building spaces (excluding renovations) must include infrastructure to enable easy handling and removal of discarded resources to appropriate processing locations. Renovations whenever possible should improve such existing infrastructure.f. Restroom facilities within new building spaces must incorporate human manure recycling systems such as composting toilets whenever possible.

    3. Water Use
      • New building spaces must incorporate design for greywater and non-toxic rainwater collection systems whenever possible.
      • Water meters must be installed for all new building spaces to monitor hot and cold water use.
      • All water fixtures installed in a new building space must conform to the most current EPA WaterSense specifications.
    4. Building Materials
      • Recycled, reused, and locally sourced/manufactured (within a 500 mile radius) materials, as well as certified rapidly renewable, sustainably-harvested, non-toxic, and low-emission building materials must be considered before the purchase and use of any new materials in the construction of a new building space.
      • Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and/or documentation of sources and environmental and social impacts of building materials used in the construction of a new building space must be provided whenever possible.
      • The use of high-embodied energy materials throughout the construction of a new building space must be avoided whenever possible.

    (Passed 2015)

  • Meat Purchasing Policy

    In the Spring of 1998, the All College Meeting approved the policy that College of the Atlantic shall only purchase safe, Maine-raised meat, including beef. In this instance, “safe” means that the farms the College purchases from will have humane, free-range animal facilities and will refrain from the use of hormones, antibiotics and animal protein feed. The College will more strongly pursue the purchase of organically certified meat as it becomes available, as the number of certified farms is currently limited. This proposal does not apply to fish or seafood.

  • Fair Trade Coffee Policy

    In March 2001, following the tenets established in the Campus Environmental Initiative, the All-College Meeting ratified the following policy regarding the purchase of Fair Trade Coffee:

    College of the Atlantic will restrict the purchasing of coffee by Take A Break (our dining services) and all other offices to brands that are organic and Fair Trade Certified by TransFair USA, its successor organization or another independently monitored labeling Non Governmental Organization.

    As part of this policy, the All-College Meeting also approved the following resolution:

    TAB shall strive to purchase fair trade certified products whenever possible given budgetary restraints. This includes rice and most fruits and vegetables of non-US origin. No new policy will be necessary to implement such changes unless the additional cost of purchasing such products is substantial.

    The full text of the proposal can be obtained from the Chair of the Steering Committee or the Archivist.

  • Energy Framework



    Given that the use of fossil fuels is changing the climate and that the current rate of energy consumption by individuals, the campus, and global community is unsustainable, College of the Atlantic will meet its energy needs by using local and renewable energy sources. This will enable the college to become a fossil fuel free campus by 2030. This goal will be achieved both by reducing our overall energy consumption and by using fossil fuel free sources of energy.

    The college strives to make COA a laboratory for students, faculty, and staff to explore the diverse prospects of a more sustainable energy future. A central part of the energy plan will include classes and project-based learning where students can practice the interdisciplinary skills needed to promote responsible energy use. Students will be involved in designing, constructing, maintaining, and monitoring all necessary changes on the campus, including its islands and farms. The college will be a place where energy production is an attractive and healthy part of the landscape, enhancing the quality of our lives, education, community, and environment.

    These experiences, along with the college’s interdisciplinary curriculum in human ecology, will prepare students to become advocates for the ecological integrity of the climate and planet and give them tools to influence change in their chosen professions and communities.

    As the college moves toward a fossil fuel free campus by 2030, it is faced with the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of older buildings before trying to retrofit them with renew- able heating systems. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings typically includes adding insulation, plugging leaks, and, where cost effective, as in the renovation of Turrets, installing energy-efficient windows and doors.

    The technologies already exist to replace fossil fuel heating systems with renewable sources of heat. The challenge will be selecting, designing, and financing renewable heating systems to meet the needs of the wide variety of buildings on campus, a challenge that will provide opportunities for student involvement throughout the entire process.

    More easily accomplished will be increasing the amount of solar electricity generated on campus. Actions taken to transition buildings to renewable heating sources and the continued sourcing of electricity from large wind farms while increasing on-campus solar PV will reduce the college’s carbon footprint, but not eliminate it. The college can transition its fossil fuel vehicle fleet over time to alternatives such as more capable electric vehicles. However, COA will continue to rely on air travel to provide academic opportunities around the world for its students.

    Teaching and learning about energy occurs in several classes at COA. Other courses, while not focused on energy, provide additional skills and background for students wishing to be effective advocates for renewable energy.


    Targets and Actions

    1. Reduce Fossil Fuel Use.

    (a)  By 2020, COA’s research stations on Great Duck Island and Mount Desert Rock will be fossil fuel free to the greatest extent possible.

    (b)  By 2020, Beech Hill and Peggy Rockefeller Farms will be fossil fuel free to the greatest extent possible.

    (c)  By 2025, 50% of all campus buildings’ primary heating sources will be fossil fuel free.

    (d)  By 2030, all remaining campus buildings’ primary heating sources will be fossil fuel free.

    (e) By 2030, achieve a 20% reduction from fuel emissions by 2030 for COA’s collective road vehicle fleet based on 2017 baseline data. Maintain the 20% reduction even if the fleet expands.

    (f) By 2030, achieve at least 20% biodiesel usage for all COA diesel vehicles, including trucks and boats.

    (g) In 2030, the College will conduct a full evaluation of its progress towards the goals set out in this Framework and develop a plan based on most current technologies, policies, and financial considerations to address any remaining fossil usage from on-campus energy consumption.


    2. Reduce Total Energy Consumption. Through a combination of energy efficiency and efforts to decrease individual energy consumption, total energy consumed on campus will be reduced.

    (a) By 2020, reduce total on-campus energy consumption by 10 percent.

    (b) By 2030, reduce total on-campus energy consumption by 20 percent.


    3. Generate Electricity.

    (a) By 2020, COA will generate on campus at least 15 percent of all the electricity used on campus.

    (b)  For all electricity not generated on campus, COA will purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) ensuring that its electricity comes from sources that do not actively emit carbon dioxide.


    4. Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions.


    (a) By 2020, over 50 percent of COA’s total on-campus energy consumption will be generated from fossil fuel free sources.

    (b) By 2030, all on-campus energy consumption from fossil fuels will be carbon neutral through offsetting remaining carbon emissions by supporting, funding, and/or purchasing carbon credits from local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

    (d) For all College-sponsored air travel (i.e., COA has paid for the plane ticket), COA will offset the carbon released by purchasing carbon credits from renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.


    5. Educate. Opportunities to learn about energy and participate in projects will be made available to students of all genders, nationalities, and academic interests. Classes and student projects will build on themselves. Data from previous projects will be analyzed, current projects will be implemented, and future projects will be planned. These educational activities will help COA attain the goals laid out in this document.


    (a) Each year, between 15 to 20 percent of COA’s graduating class will have taken a course in energy and/or participated in a term-long project in renewable energy or energy efficiency.

    (b)  Each academic year offer one introductory energy class and one intermediate, project-based energy class. Provide support for and encourage independent studies, group projects, and senior projects in energy and efficiency.


    6. Experiment. Take advantage of COA’s small size and flexible curriculum to conduct experiments and explore different approaches to energy and efficiency as part of teaching,  research, and community engagement efforts.


    7. Monitor. Expand the quantity and quality of energy data available, make this data easily accessible, and use this information to inform continuing energy work at COA.

    (a)  By 2020, set up real-time monitoring of electrical and heating systems for all academic and residential buildings on campus.

    (b) Establish and maintain an archive of COA energy data and energy projects, open and easily accessible to all COA community members.

    (c) Create an Annex to this Energy Framework to monitor and assess progress towards the goals laid out in this Energy Framework in relation to baseline data.


    8. Report. The Director of Energy Education and Management (or equivalent staff member) will report once a year to ACM on the progress made toward the targets laid out in this document.


    9. Revise. The Campus Committee for Sustainability will review these targets at least every five years and will bring any changes to the ACM. CCS and the Director of Energy Education and Management, in collaboration with other administrators and campus bodies, including the Administrative Dean and the Campus Planning and Building Committee, will expand upon this framework to produce an action plan by Spring 2017, further detailing how various reductions will be achieved.

    10. Fund and Finance. Funding for these initiatives will require approval of the President and Administrative Dean, who will balance the goals laid out here with other needs of the College in consultation with the Director of Energy Education and Management, as well as other students, faculty, and staff as appropriate. Where possible, seek grants and third-party funding to help finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.


    Technical Notes

    • “On-campus energy consumption” is defined as energy consumed by all activities taking place on the COA main campus, farms, research stations, and all other COA-owned properties. This includes energy consumed by the COA-owned vehicle fleet, but excludes transportation to and from these locations by personal vehicle, boat and/or airplane. This does not include “embodied energy” related to the production and transportation of food or other materials used/consumed by on-campus activities, as these energy costs are addressed by other College policies and initiatives.
    • Baseline data used to calculate progress towards the Energy Framework will be consumption levels averaged over a period of three years: 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13.

    (Initially passed April 4, 2013; Amended January 18, 2017)

  • Endorse the Earth Charter


    What is the Earth Charter?

    “The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principals for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people’s a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well being of the human family and the larger living world. It is an expression of hope and a call to help create a global partnership at a critical juncture in history.”

    Where did it come from and who wrote it?

    “In 1987 the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development issued a call for creation of a new charter that would set forth fundamental principals for sustainable development. …The Earth Charter is the product of a decade long, worldwide, cross-cultural conversation about common goals and shared values. …Thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations from all regions of the world, different cultures, and diverse sectors of society have participated.”

    What are the sources of the Earth Charter values?

    “…contemporary science, international law, the wisdom of the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions, the declarations and reports of the seven UN summit conferences held in the 1990’s, the global ethics movement, numerous nongovernmental declarations and people’s treaties issued over the past thirty years, and best practices for building sustainable communities.”

    What does endorsement mean?

    “Endorsement of the Earth Charter by individuals or organizations signifies a commitment to the spirit and aims of the document. It also means a commitment to work for the implementation of the values and principles of the Earth Charter and a readiness to cooperate with others in this endeavor.

    The Earth Charter Initiative is seeking to develop a world wide base of support for the Earth Charter. The Initiative is promoting the endorsement, dissemination, implementation and formal and non-formal educational use of the Earth Charter by individuals and organizations in all sectors of society. Nevertheless, organizations are asked to send an official letter of support as stated in the Statement of Endorsement.”

    Since it was launched in June of 2000, 10,543 organizations, governments, communities and individuals have endorsed the Earth Charter.


    The four core principles of the Earth Charter—respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence, and peace—are consistent with and will help to deepen and further the values stated in the mission and vision of College of the Atlantic.

    By endorsing the Earth Charter, COA will be supporting the Earth Charter Initiative, which aims to:

    • Disseminate the Earth Charter and its principles to individuals and communities throughout the world,
    • Gain endorsement and implementation by individuals, governments, businesses, and organizations, including the United Nations, and
    • Promote the educational use of the Earth Charter in schools, universities, and communities.

    By endorsing the Earth Charter COA can help to:

    • Encourage the use of the Earth Charter as “an ethical foundation for the ongoing development of environmental and sustainable development law,”
    • Promote its use as an ethical framework for businesses, organizations, and all segments of civil society,
    • Encourage its use as a foundation for programs for sustainable development,
    • Call and guide communities and individuals toward a sustainable way of life,
    • Spark dialogue across cultures, sectors, and ideologies concerning global ethics.

    Endorsement of the Earth Charter will benefit COA directly by:

    • Publicly reaffirming our mission,
    • Deepening our commitment to global ethics,
    • Providing impetus to reevaluate our curriculum and policies based on this new commitment as well as the values set out in our mission and vision,
    • Connecting us to other groups and institutions worldwide who have similar goals,
    • And signifying our participation in the world community.


    Therefore, we the COA community, resolve to:

    • Endorse the Earth Charter,
    • Explore ways to strengthen our curriculum through appropriate incorporation of the Earth Charter’ s core principles,
    • Broaden our commitment to sustainability both on campus and off,
    • Use the Earth Charter as a tool for outreach to and collaboration with other groups, and
    • Agree to revisit and evaluate our implementation of these resolutions at least once a year.

    (Passed 2003)

  • Divestiture Statement

    The College of the Atlantic will divest from any common stocks that appear on the attached list of fossil fuel related companies* and will divest from any fixed income from that same list upon maturity; we will also instruct our investment managers to refrain from any further investments in companies on that list.

    (Passed April 2013 by the College of the Atlantic Board of Trustees)

    *Carbon Underground 200 -


  • Containerized Water Policy

    The purpose of this policy is to further College of the Atlantic’s demonstrated commitment to general environmental sustainability, including responsible purchasing practices, reduction of campus waste, and reduction of energy and fossil fuel use, as outlined in Articles I, II, III and V of the Campus Environmental Initiative.

    Because the Board of Trustees has discontinued its use of bottled water,

    Because water containers contribute to waste and the depletion of natural resources through the containerization and transportation process,

    Because there is controversy over the sustainability of the commodification of a resource as essential to existence as water,

    And acknowledging that we have access to safe, potable drinking water at College of the Atlantic,

    Be it resolved that College of the Atlantic will not buy, sell, accept or distribute containerized water.


    1. The term “College of the Atlantic” includes all employees or volunteers of the college while they are operating for or in conjunction with the College as an institution on college property or at college events.
    2. Containerized water includes bottles, jugs, cartons, and any other form of commercially packaged water intended for single-use.
    3. Sparkling water is not included in this policy. However, this policy discourages the purchasing of sparkling water as a substitute for containerized water.


    College of the Atlantic shall not purchase, accept gifts of, sell, or distribute containerized water on college property or at college events. At events where the college serves other beverages (soda, juice, coffee, etc.) it will provide equal opportunities for people to drink tap water.

    The College may act contrary to this policy in the case of a tap water quality or water access emergency, as declared by the Director of Public Safety, or in the case of a pandemic.

    (Passed 2010)

  • Campus Environmental Initiative

    In the Fall of 1996, the All College Meeting formally approved the following
    Campus Environmental Initiative as College policy. The mission of College of the Atlantic Campus Environmental Initiative is to prioritize an environmental responsibility into all policies, programs and practices. The Initiative will directly stimulate the development of projects that enhance the sustainability of both the educational and physical landscape.

    The core of the initiative is a strategic plan to be used as a reference for staff, faculty and students. The plan identifies aspects of management where resources are not environmentally and economically efficient. In such areas community members will work to implement more sustainable alternatives. The Campus Environmental Initiative aims to teach all community members about local and low-impact living and operating and to develop College of the Atlantic into a showcase of sustainability. The success of the Initiative will be evaluated periodically through environmental audits that evaluate its progress in achieving
    the following goals and commitments:

    1. College of the Atlantic is committed to instituting environmentally and socially responsible purchasing policies.
    2. College of the Atlantic is committed to reducing campus waste.
    3. College of the Atlantic is committed to the maximization of energy efficiency and to using sustainable energy sources.
    4. College of the Atlantic is committed to enhancing sustainability in land-use and building planning.
    5. College of the Atlantic is committed to encouraging low fossil-fuel transport.
    6. College of the Atlantic is committed to providing curricular opportunities of study of campus and local environmental issues.
    7. College of the Atlantic is committed to utilizing regional and organic food sources.
    8. College of the Atlantic is committed to environmentally and socially responsible development and investment.
    9. College of the Atlantic is committed to green public outreach.
    10. College of the Atlantic is committed to enabling access of tools for sustainability.
    11. College of the Atlantic is committed to a physical infrastructure, institutional practices and personal behaviors that will foster public health.

    (Passed 1996)