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.


  • 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 U:S.’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 s11stainable. 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

    Mission Statement

    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 2050. 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.

    Preamble and Background

    As of 2013, 60 percent of the total energy used by College of the Atlantic on its campus, farms, and islands is supplied by fossil fuels including #2 heating oil, kerosene, and propane. Over the last three years, COA has used an average of 40,000 gallons of #2 heating oil and 17,700 gallons of propane to heat its buildings and water. This amount of fuel is enough to heat 65 average Maine homes. The remaining 40 percent of energy used on campus comes from renewable sources. This 40 percent breaks down into 30 percent for electricity from wind farms in the Midwest and 10 percent from an on-campus biomass boiler serving the new student housing and campus center.

    As the college moves toward a fossil fuel-free campus by 2050, 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. The college uses approximately one million kilowatt hours a year. This is equivalent to the electricity used by 160 average Maine homes. As of February 2013, the college generates approximately 1–2 percent of its total electricity from solar PV at the farms and on campus. Two solar projects to be developed during Spring 2013 will add 50 kW of installed capacity on cam- pus using roofs of the new student residences and at a location on Peggy Rockefeller Farms. Along with its current solar, these new installations will allow the college to supply approximately 8 percent of its electricity needs. We will continue adding solar PV as finances permit.

    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, the college will continue to rely on air travel to provide academic opportunities around the world for its students. Taking responsibility for this source of carbon emissions will require buying carbon offsets to allow COA to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

    Teaching and learning about energy occurs in several classes at College of the Atlantic. Since 2010, the college has offered a yearly class on the physics and mathematics of sustainable energy. This class, the creation of which was funded by a Research and Education Seed Grant from the Maine Space Grant Consortium, gives students the basic physics, math, and analytical skills to understand issues in renewable energy. The college has also offered several project-based intermediate-level classes, one on residential windpower and one on solar energy. Other courses, while not focused on energy, provide additional skills and background for students wishing to be effective advocates for renewable energy. Such classes include, Sustainability, Business and Non-Profit Basics, Environmental Law, and Technical Writing. Students, faculty, and staff work together on environmental initiatives on campus, providing additional learning opportunities for students.

    Targets and Actions

    1. Reduce Fossil Fuel Use. By 2020, reduce COA’s per-student fossil fuel use on campus by 20 percent. By 2030, reduce by 30 percent.
      • By 2020 COA vehicle fleet will be fossil-fuel free.
      • By 2030 the research stations on Great Duck Island and Mount Desert Rock will be fossil fuel free.
      • By 2030 Beech Hill and Peggy Rockefeller Farms will be fossil fuel free.
      • By 2030 all student housing will be fossil fuel free.
      • By 2040 all other campus buildings will be fossil fuel free.
    2. Reduce Total Energy Use. By 2020, through a combination of energy efficiency and reduced consumption, reduce COA’s total per-student energy use by 10 percent. By 2030, reduce by 20 percent.
    3. Generate Electricity.
      • By 2020, the college will generate on campus at least 15 percent of all the electricity by COA.
      • The college will purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for all electricity not generated on campus, ensuring that its electricity comes from sources that do not actively emit carbon dioxide.
      • By 2015 Beech Hill and Peggy Rockefeller Farms will be net renewably powered. I.e., the surplus energy generated by solar PV on the farms will be greater than any energy used from fossil-fuel sources.
    4. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. By 2020, over 50 percent of COA’s energy will be from carbon neutral sources. By 2050, the entire on-campus operations will be carbon neutral.
    5. Offset Air Travel. For all COA-sponsored air travel (i.e., COA has paid for the plane ticket), the college will offset the carbon released by purchasing carbon credits.
    6. Educate. 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.
      • Each academic year offer one introductory energy class and one intermediate, project-based energy class. Provide support for and encourage independent stud- ies, group projects, and senior projects in energy and efficiency.
      • These educational activities will help the college attain the goals laid out in this document. Classes and student projects will build on themselves. Data from pre- vious projects will be analyzed, current projects will be implemented, and future projects will be planned.

      • Opportunities to learn about energy and participate in projects will be made available to students of all genders, nationalities, and academic interests.
    7. Experiment. Take advantage of the college’s small size and flexible curriculum to conduct experiments with different approaches to energy and efficiency in both teaching and research.
    8. Monitor. Expand the quantity and quality of energy data available, make this data easily accessible, and use this information to inform the college’s energy work.
      • By 2014 set up real-time, circuit-breaker-level monitoring of the electricity usage of the Arts and Sciences building. Analyze data to achieve reductions.
      • Move toward real-time monitoring of electrical and heating systems for all major buildings on campus.
      • Establish and maintain an archive of COA energy data and energy projects, open and easily accessible to all COA community members.
    9. Report. The Director of Sustainability will report twice a year to ACM on the progress the college is making toward the targets laid out in this plan.
    10. Revise. Campus Committee on Sustainability (CCS) will review these targets at least every five years and will bring any changes to the ACM. CCS and the Director of Sustainability, 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 2014, further detailing how various reductions will be achieved.
    11. 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. Where possible, we will seek grants and third-party funding to help finance energy projects.

    Technical Notes

    • For measuring the reductions in items 1 and 2, the college will consider all on-campus energy use and the energy used by COA-operated vehicles. It will not consider travel to campus, by either car or plane, nor the cost of shipping food and material to COA, nor the energy embodied in food and other purchases. These transportation and production costs are potentially significant, but they are less in our control than the energy directly used in the college’s facilities. The college has thus decided to focus on reducing on- campus energy use and eliminating all on-campus use of fossil fuels. The COA Food Group is working on initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the food eaten at COA.
    • Our baseline for these reductions will be the average use over three years, 2010–11, 2011-12, and 2012–13.

    (Passed April 4, 2013)

  • 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)

  • 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)