Sustainable Clark

Sustainable Clark

What IS Sustainable Clark?

It's you. It's me. It's every one of us. We are all able of making a difference in the world: everything you do, every day, matters. Here at Clark we act on that principle. It is who we are. Together we are Sustainable Clark.

The mission of Sustainble Clark's Office of Sustainability is to cultivate a greener campus by facilitating collaboration between and among students, faculty, administrative departments and staff. We offer resources to recognize system failures and help innovate solutions; empower the Clark community to collaborate on creating campus-based solutions & programs and serve as an integral partner in their implementation; and strive to build community awareness around social, economic and environmental issues. We make change happen. The campus is a learning laboratory; constructive ideas are welcome and viable projects are supported. With over 130 courses addressing issues of sustainbility and 10+ sustainability-oriented student organizations, Sustainable Clark is fully engaged in proactive sustainability, on and off campus.

Clark's long history of engagement and our current initiatives are clear indicators of the University's commitment to sustainability. We invite you to explore our website to learn more about Sustainable Clark and how you can make a difference.

Of Note

Sierra's 'Cool Schools' ranks Clark #17 in the US; Princeton Review, Aspen Inst., Forbes & Entrepreneur agree

Right up there with institutions known for their highly-visible sustainability features, Clark's green beating heart shines through! We might not have a giant solar array, but Clark has a long and strong tradition of stewardship and innovation, on and off campus. Our dozens of student-led initiatives, research, and deep institutional commitment to sustainability demonstrated to the prestigious Sierra Club that Clark is a very Cool School. Princeton Review agrees, placing Clark in the top tier of Green Colleges for the fifth consecutive year in 2014. Clark's Graduate School of Management is recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as a top green business school, and is ranked among the top 100 in Beyond Grey Pinstripes, Aspen Institute's guide to sustainable business programs worldwide. Forbes magazine named Clark as a top entrepreneurial school, partly due to alumni's green business efforts! Although rankings are important, Sustainable Clark is more than a number. Read on...there's quite a lot...

Student Sustainability Fund Awards Projects

The new Student Sustainability Fund (SSF) is "a resource for advancement of sustainable practices, education and infrastructure" on campus. The SSF Guidelines outline funding requirements for student-led initiatives that 1). are "environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable"; 2). demonstrate partnership with other sectors of the Clark community; 3). have an educational outreach component as well as a positive environmental impact. In its first three rounds of funding, the SSF received project applications in excess of its annual $20,000 allocation from student activities fund. Since its inception in 2012, the SSF has awarded 14 student teams the funds to make their green dreams come true, ranging from alternative menstrual products to planting native plant species in 3 gardens; building a mobile solar charging station, installing water bottle filling stations and energy efficient hand dryers, and expanding composting capacity on campus. **2014 SSF awards will fund reusable towels for Athletics & 5 more water bottle filling stations in residence halls and academic buildings!***

Green Campus Improvements: Summer 2014

Most of the large-scale infrastructure improvements on campus happen during the summer break. Clark's most significant summer 2014 project was in Alden Quad. New double-wall, insulated steam distribution piping and condensate steam return lines replaced deteriorating, uninsulated pipes that were up to 50 years old (in some cases water-proofed with ground seashells). Underground piping was reduced by 300' because the new lines run through buildings. Steam traps, flash tanks and electric pumped condensate tanks were updated or added to the Alden Quad system. Decades-old water heaters in Maywood Hall were replaced with high-efficiency condensing heaters. The extensive renovation will recapture 95% of the previous steam losses and save Clark between 87,000 and 130,000 mmBtu's per year, a significant contribution to our Climate Action Plan goals. Although trees were removed to accommodate the new distribution system, the trees were fully repurposed locally as firewood or mulch. The new Alden Quad will be beautiful and much more usable. Landscaping includes over 80% native species of trees, shrubs and perennials to feed and shelter wildlife; a rain sensor reduces irrigation; seating areas (some made with recycled glass) are complimented by open planting beds for future food gardens; erosion and run off control is a result of contour grading. Compost and loam were added throughout.

The Dolan Field House now has 3 solar-powered path lights behind the baseball field. This model is being trialed for additional use on campus, and so far is working well. Dolan's main gym was retrofitted with all LED (light emitting diode) lamps, replacing the fluorescents that had replaced the halogens 3 years ago and illustrating Clark's commitment to continual improvement as technology becomes appropriate. The LED's have a life expectancy of up to 10 years and will reduce energy consumption by up to 30% over the fluorescent lamps. The soccer field was refinished in synthetic turf which will eliminate chemicals used in fertilizers, herbicides; eliminate CO2 from constant mowing; and reduce line painting. Dolan also received upgraded VFD motors and system retrofitting.

Estabrook was outfitted with 210 new aluminum windows to replace the old wood and metal ones. The new windows feature clear, low-e glass to 'filter' ultraviolet and infrared rays (maximizing passive solar) while retaining light; the new windows also have screens so that fresh air can flow through the building. Shades add to the passive solar benefits.

Graduate student housing at 906 Main St. was renovated with an eye to energy efficiency, including new basement windows, Energy Star appliances, low water use toilets, blown-in attic insulation, LED lighting fixtures, baseboard heaters and climate control zones. All of this new infrastructure will reduce energy costs in the vintage triple-decker, as well as lower our greenhouse gas emissions. The building is now called the 'Social Change House'.

Last but not least Grounds Dept.., Residential Life, Herban Gardeners and Sustainable Clark collaborated to install three 'edible landscape' gardens around the Oval and in front of Goddard Library. Funded by the SSF and originally researched and designed by an EN-103 Sustainable University student team, these gardens represent nine months of planning, permissioning and persistence. Reducing grass monoculture and providing food/shelter for birds, insects and butterflies, the biodiversity-enhancing gardens will also reduce Clark's carbon footprint from mowing and string trimming activity.

Green Campus Improvements: Summer 2013

Clark's summer 2013 projects included a number of improvements to campus sustainability. Renovations to the Bickman Fitness Center reduced waste by re-using the rubber floor mats in the Rowing area and carefully preserving the wall mirrors for re-installation. We also donated 20 pieces of fitness equipment to Claremont Academy and Worcester South High instead of sending them to landfill. A hydration station and gender-neutral bathroom were also added.

Replacing approximately 560 feet of 25-year old, uninsurable, leaky steam distribution lines (Goddard Library, Wright Hall, Little Center, Estabrook) with double-walled insulated pipe (and re-routing through buildings instead of exterior) is expected to reduce thermal losses from 1,800 Btu's per foot to less than 80 Btu's and provide a fuel savings of 20%.

'Hydration stations' to refill your reusable water bottle with chilled, filtered water were added in Goddard Library, Johnson-Sanford Center and Maywood; with more pending installation this fall in Jefferson Academic Center and Dodd Hall. The hydration stations in the residence halls were purchased by the Student Sustainability Fund!

Energy-efficient air hand dryers were installed in bathrooms in the University Center, reducing waste from paper towels. The model uses 80% less energy than conventional blown-air hand dryers, and dries hands completely and sanitarily in less than 15 seconds. These new hand dryers are a pilot program to see how our community responds to them, and measure the cost and resource savings. Sustainable Clark intern Marla Carrera-Raleigh '15 monitored paper towel volume and labor costs to replace up to 6 rolls per day (and cart away the waste); indicating a significant savings could be realized from replacing paper towels.

LEEP Projects & Sustainable Clark

LEEP and sustainability have a lot in common, starting with the challenge of transforming the world for the better. Sustainable Clark is proud to have mentored and guided 9 Clark LEEP Pioneers in 2012-2014: Ben Gardener '12; Gigi Chow '14; Sam Mix '14; Sarah Philbrick '15, Gus Meissner '14, Megan Grondin '14, Eli Goldman '16, Chi Le '15 and Lloyd Schramm '16. Ranging from developing a campus master landscape plan to community engagement at the Thrift Store; creating a strategic plan for the neglected Hadwen Arboretum or monitoring campus energy use to impact positive behavior, the Sustainable Clark LEEP Project Pioneers have all made significant contributions to sustainability research and project implementation at Clark, while developing real-world skills for their future. Several LEEP Pioneers have written blogs: Eli's energy crusade is featured in the sidebar and Sam's fascinating history is here.

National Grid's "Sustainability" Hub

Working from a Public Utilities grant and vendor donations, National Grid, the regional electric utility provider, operates an educational center on Clark property at the corner of Main and Hawthorne Sts. Clark students serve as 'ambassadors' to tour visitors around the latest energy-saving home appliances and provide information about smart grid metering and connectivity.

Energy & Climate

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction on Track

As of the calendar reporting year 2014, Clark University is on track to meet and exceed its interim goal of a 20 percent reduction over 2005 emissions levels by 2015, as it has been since 2009. The ultimate goal of net zero emissions by 2030 is very ambitious, but every year's efforts bring us closer! Net greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 were 13,077.66 metric tons of CO2 equivalents. This represents a 4.3% decrease from total 2013 emissions, and is due to a number of factors that are fully explained in the 2014 Update. The year-to-year impact that Clark has achieved since the baseline year of 2005 continues to display a strong downward trend. Complete 2014 Update  Complete 2013 Update | Complete 2012 Update | Complete 2011 Update | Complete 2010 Update |

Clark's Bold Climate Action Plan—Net Neutral by 2030

Clark University released its Climate Action Plan in 2009, detailing mitigation strategies for the University to reduce its greenhouse gas toward two goals: an interim goal of reduced emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2015 and climate neutrality (net zero greenhouse gas emissions) by the year 2030. Clark signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in June 2007.

Clark Invests in Solar

Beginning in January 2014, Clark is actively supporting and benefitting from a local solar energy farm through Solar Flair Energy. The 20-year financial arrangement with this local, independant innovator operates through a system of utility credits: Clark's electrical bills from National Grid receive a discount adjusted for solar energy farm production. Indirectly, Clark is powered by the sun - up to 10% of our annual (non co-generator produced) electrical usage! Real-time analytics from the farms are here and here.

Clark's Fry Oil  = Building Heat

In a multi-year collaborative project, Clark's fry oil from the cafeteria is recycled into biodiesel that heats a campus building at 138 Woodland St. The vegetable oil is collected and processed into biodiesel by a local small business, assisted by Clark students. The finished product is then delivered in specific volumes to add to the heating oil tank in the building, making the heating fuel source B-20, or 20% biodiesel. This has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the building by 10% and even cleaned the boiler! Intern Suyanka Neupaney MS '14 collaborated with Clark's Dining Service; Physical Plant; Empower Energy and building occupants on the project, and recently hosted a 'Make BioFuel Skillshare' workshop during Clark Earth Week. A full article on the sucessful project will be published in Clark media channels in the near future.

'Smart Rooms' Get Smarter

Clark classrooms and meeting spaces equipped with projectors and other media equipment now have a much smaller carbon footprint. Room users should power down equipment before leaving a room but it does not always happen. When a room is not in use for extended periods of time - academic breaks, weekends, overnight - but all that equipment remains on, energy waste can add up! Academic Technology Services has deployed an automated power-down system that will achieve the media services reliability needed, yet realize significant energy savings (at least $8,000 per year) if equipment isleft on by mistake. The system puts everything in sleep mode at 1 am across campus. Turning everything off was deemed more costly due to potential lost programming and resets.

Hand Dryers Reduce Waste, Energy

Energy-efficient air hand dryers were installed in bathrooms in the University Center, Jonas Clark, and Academic Commons, reducing waste from paper towels. The super-efficient model uses 80% less energy than conventional blown-air hand dryers, and dries hands completely and sanitarily in less than 15 seconds. These new hand dryers are a pilot program to see how our community responds to them, and to measure the cost and resource savings. Sustainable Clark intern Marla Carrera-Raleigh monitored paper towel volume and labor costs to replace up to 6 rolls per day (and cart away the waste); indicating a significant savings could be realized from replacing paper towels. The SSF helped to fund the dryers in the AC through a successful student project application.

Vending Machines Upgraded

Drink vending machines are now Energy Star models with up to 55% lower energy use than standard units. Some have timers to shut down energy-hogging refrigeration coils at night, and some have Vending Miser sensors to reduce lighting when not in use. Machines may appear dark but they are still on – just sleeping! And drinks will stay cold due to super insulation in the new Energy Star models.

New Cogeneration Engine Operating as of January 2013

Ground-breaking in its time, Clark's cogeneration engine has been plugging faithfully away underneath Jonas Clark Hall since 1982, producing electricity for central campus and capturing the waste heat from electrical generation in a complex water loop that provides thermal energy—heat—to many campus buildings. In 2010, the cogen switched from oil to natural gas, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the engine's efficiency a little, but still not to modern standards. A recent incentive program allowed Clark to upgrade the old cogen to a larger and much more efficient 2.0 MW engine, in full operation January 2013. The new cogen is already making a difference, operating with efficiencies 50% greater than previous and expected to reduce GHG emissions.

Atwood Hall Lighting Upgrade

Lighting fixtures that date from the 1970's were recently replaced in the Atwood Hall auditorium, allowing the installation of state-of-the-art LED bulbs specifically designed for use in theatres and entertainment venues. The dimmable LED's max out at 85 kWh, as compared with the old lights' system of  500 - 4000 kWh.

Reducing Waste

Clark Composts! in Residence Halls

"If it was ever alive, you can compost it" - Clark Composts! One of very few colleges in the nation to be so bold, Clark rolled out an innovative compost collection program in Johnson-Sanford, Wright, and Dodd Halls in Fall 2013. The program was so successful (with over 700 student signatures in support), that is has been expanded to MORE residential halls for Fall 2014! Only Blackstone is not included in the compost collection program. Residential Life, Physical Plant, Sustainable Clark, Clark Composts! and the Recycling Crew partner to collect and divert all compostable items in these halls. Food items and paper towels that previously went to landfill can now be composted right in the dorms. Funding for this dynamic student-designed program is from the SSF. Clark Composts! Guidelines outline the huge variety of items that can be composted. Why add to landfill?? Why? Compost or recycle it!

Clark Community Thrift Store: Over 30 Tons Diverted from Landfill

The wildly popular student-run Clark Community Thrift Store, now in it's fourth year, was founded by students to reduce move-out waste and provide a sustainable shopping alternative. The Thrift Store has now collected approximately 30 tons of donations —perfectly good items that were then resold at reasonable prices to Clarkies and members of the surrounding community at affordable prices. The Thrift Store is managed and operated by students. In spring of 2014 the Thrift Store had to close suddenly due to issues with the church next door. The Clark Community Thrift Store re-opened in Fall 2014 at 930 Main St. next to Acoustic Java, with a new look and an improved selection of quality items. The mission of the Store remains the same: Grow, save & give. Together.

Dining Services Introduces Green2Go in the Bistro Cafe; Lean Path in the Kitchen

Already providing sustainable cardboard and corn-ware take out containers, Dining Services has gone further with Green2Go. No more waste from take-out containers! For only $5, you are provided with a large, reusable container for take out food. Bring the container back and exchange it for a clean one, filled with your favorite take-out! Dining Services will clean and exchange the Green2Go's for most Bistro items. (Faculty and staff can also take advantage fo Green2Go at the Higgins and Bistro cafes). Lean Path, a revolutionary software program to monitor pre-consumer food waste in the preparation of cafeteria food, has been operational since 2013. In the first year with Lean Path, Clark Dining Services kitchen managed to reduce waste by almost 6 tons!

Clark Wins MassRecycle, Three Years in a Row

In 2013 Clark won MassRecycle 'Best Student Effort' among Massachusetts colleges and universities for its innovative and successful dorm composting program! A collaborative effort two years in the making, the state agency was so impressed that they created a category to showcase Clark's achievement. In 2012 Clark was recognized by the DEP's MassRecycle for its student Recycling Crew and their partners in Physical Plant, the Thrift Store, and Sustainable Clark: recycling rate of 30%; diversion rate of 50%; waste decreased by 50 tons! ( Clark placed third in the state behind Harvard and Tufts Universities - not bad company, considering the resources those two giants 'throw' at managing waste!) In 2011 Clark Dining Services was awarded first place for its effective composting program in Higgins Cafeteria, averaging 200 tons of waste diverted to compost per year.

Recycling & Diversion Rate Soars in 2013

Clark's recycling rate is now 35%, up from 19% in 2011! Awareness, effort of the Clark Recycling Crew and 230 new recycling bins throughout campus make it easier for the Clark community to recycle paper, all plastic #1-7, glass and metal. In 2012 CU Student Council loaned money to the Recycling Initiative of the CSC, and several 2013 SSF-funded student projects added to Clark's bin capacity. Clean recyclable paper and cardboard are an income stream for the University so by increasing our capacity to recycle with more bins, the investment payoff is shorter. Clark's diversion rate, which includes compost, donations, salvage and recycled material is now 53%, up from 40% in 2011.

Now it's your turn: Re-Imagine, Reduce, Reuse and RECYCLE !

Waste Audit 2012 Results: 500# of Garbage per Day in the Halls

We got down and dirty with your garbage in October 2012. Volunteers from Eco Reps, Recycling Crew, the Clark Sustainability Collaborative and Residential Advisors weighed and sorted one day's worth of garbage collected from all Residential Halls.

The surprising results? Clarkies generate over 500 pounds of garbage per day in the Halls. Was it all garbage? No. Break it down:

24% Recycle (paper, plastic #1-7, cardboard, bottles & cans, e-waste)

59% Compost* (food, soiled paper, compostable cups)

1% Reuse/Donate (books, clothes, etc)

16% Landfill Garbage (plastic bags, styrofoam, un-reusable articles)

Let's move that 24% recyclable materials from landfill to the recycle bins! For more information on the last three years of waste audits—to volunteer for the next waste audit—or find out more about Hall composting, ask an Eco Rep

*The protocol for waste audits requires that items are weighed rather than counted. Consider that an empty plastic bottle weighs very little, while half a pizza weighs much more. Since Clark does not collect compost in the Halls, that category says more about patterns of consumption and food waste than anything else. SSF has awarded funding to begin a Hall composting program based on a pilot.

Clark Now an EPA WasteWise Partner: Recycling Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Students and Recycling Crew members Lorelei Obermyer '13 and Heather Mackenzie '12 researched and compiled nine years of Clark's waste and recycling data to fulfill the EPA's requirements to be a WasteWise partner. Among other benefits, the system's WARM calculator converts volumes of different items recycled into greenhouse gas equivalencies incorporating full life cycle analysis. For example, the paper we recycled in 2011 equaled the carbon sequestration capacity of 5,963 trees over ten years. Clark's total recycling volume in just 2010 and 2011 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1,500 tons of CO2!

Food & Water

Clark Commits to the Real Food Challenge: 20% 'Real' Food by 2020

President Angel, Business Manager Paul Wykes, and Clark Dining Services (Sodexo) Director Heather Vaillette signed the Real Food Challenge in 2013, commiting Clark Dining to serve 20% 'real' food as measured by expenses by 2020. The commitment was the result of many years effort by a strong group of students, Food Truth. In addition to the Real Food pledge, a Food Systems Working Group under the aegis of the Sustainability Task Force, will work to set food policy for the University. 'Real' is defined by a predetermined calculator organized by the national Real Food movement. As of the most recent data analysis, Clark is at 12%.

Water Bottle Filling Stations Installed 

In summer 2013 'Hydration Stations' to refill your reusable water bottle with chilled, filtered water were added on two floors of Goddard Library, in Johnson-Sanford Center and in Maywood; with 2 more pending installation this fall in Jefferson Academic Center and Dodd Hall. The ones in the residence halls were purchased by the Student Sustainability Fund!

In 2012 Clark installed the first hydration stations in Kneller Athletic Center, University Center, and Jonas Clark academic building. The water bottle filling stations filter and chill municipal water, and are integrated into existing water fountains. The filling spout is motion-activated and dispenses 12 ounces of filtered, chilled water into refillable water bottles, eliminating the need to purchase wasteful and costly single-serving plastic water bottles. An automatic counter on the units shows how many disposable water bottles have been diverted from landfill by using the filling stations. At least three more stations are planned for the coming year, with a goal to have one in every well-used building on campus by 2014.

Clark Wins National EPA Award in Food Recovery Challenge

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Clark a coveted National Achievement Award in 2013's Food Recovery Challenge, one of only 9 such awards across the entire US! The Food Recovery Challenge measures efforts to reduce and manage food waste from dining and other functions. Clark composts all food waste from the Higgins Cafeteria, but also composts soiled paper waste from the University Center, the Recycling Center, and other locations. Dorm composting began in fall of 2013 with the student-led Clark Composts! program. We compost over 200 tons per year! If it was ever alive - you can compost it!

Students Change the Clark Landscape with Rain Garden

Clark's first (and Worcester's third) rain garden was installed in April 2012 by a group of students who had researched the pollution-filtering technology in their Sustainable University class the previous semester. Will Maxwell, Samantha Sandella, Kerry Burke and Samantha Boyle (all '15) collaborated with graduate student Ya'ara Persing (IDCE CDP '12), the Clark Sustainability Collaborative, Clark Grounds Department and the Blackstone River Coalition to design, fund and install the rain garden in front of Admissions where it will capture and biofilter stormwater runoff from the roof. Native species in the garden will attract wildlife. A primary goal of the project is to provide an educational demonstration to encourage homeowners to help reduce pollution in local waterways.

Water Efficiency Upgrades

Water efficient shower heads and toilets were installed across campus in 2011. The upgrades will help Clark reduce water consumption by an estimated 4 million gallons a year—that's equal to a line of tanker trucks over 2 miles long! Dual flush, low tank volume and other appropriate toilet technology is in use; check the handle or the button on the toilet and make the wise flush to save water. The new shower heads provide the same shower experience while reducing flow from 2.5 gallons per minute to 1.75 GPM.

The Local Root Provides Clark Community Locally & Sustainably Grown Food

Worcester boasts several farmer's markets, but they can be hard to get to on an academic schedule. A student run venture, The Local Root, solves that problem for students, faculty and staff who want access to fresh and local foods. The Local Root re-sells locally and sustainably grown produce at weekly farmer's market-style tables on the Green and via a subscription and on-campus delivery service. For more information, email The Local Root.


Electric Vehicles

Two new electric trucks are buzzing around the Clark campus as of 2014, with zero emissions and zero pollutants! ITS has a service truck with a compartment in back to transport electronics and computer equipment. Emergency Medical Services new emergency vehicle is also electric, with room for all the bulky EMS gear and an EMS team. The EMS vehicle was awarded $10,000 toward purchase by the Student Sustainability Fund; additional funding in collaboration with University Police and CUSC.

ECO Award Goes to Clark for 2012

Clark is proud to be a 'Leader' in the Department of Transportation's Excellence in Commuter Options (ECO) state-wide ranking. The award was presented in March 2013, due to our many sustainable transportation options for students and employees: shuttles, bike share, car share, van pool, rideshare, carpool parking, bus and train access.  Take advantage of going a greener way!

Clark's Electric Vehicle Charging Stations First in Central Massachusetts

Two plug-in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations were installed in Dec. 2011 at Lasry BioScience and the Woodland St. parking lot. The EV charging stations were the first in Worcester and among the first west of Boston. Clark-based Institute for Energy and Sustainability helped get the ARRA award for the 'Chargepoint America' networked stations. Bring on the plug in electric cars!

Clark Joins NuRide, You Get Rewards for Greener Trips

MassDOT sponsors NuRide, and Clark University is now a member—so everyone with a Clark email is a member, too. NuRide provides a self-reporting online tool for every greener trip. If you carpool, walk, bike, use public transit to school, work, shopping, entertainment or even work from home you get points. Points add up and can be redeemed for goods and services. Help Clark achieve its Climate Action Plan goals by taking greener trips with NuRide or other sustainable transportation choices.

Cycles of Change Offers Bike Repair Services, Clinic

Clark's student-run bike share program, Cycles of Change, has expanded and remodeled their workshop and will be offering free bike repair clinics so you can learn how to fix your bike—or they can fix it for you. Over 10 share bikes are available to members.