The Office of Sustainability publishes an annual sustainability newsletter to update students, staff, faculty and alumni on the latest initiatives and projects focused on improving campus sustainability. The most current newsletter below recaps a few of the highlights of the last year. If you'd like to receive this annual newsletter and other periodic updates from the Office of Sustainability, please sign up here.

This year the Office of Sustainability re-organized our team structure to fit more specific tasks and we managed to get a lot done! We are excited to share all of our accomplishments with you all. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us this year!

Connecticut College used Earth Day April 22, 2022 as an opportunity to announce publicly a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030 in accordance with the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment guidelines. President Bergeron’s announcement highlighted a day of activities and displays of ongoing work the College is undertaking to pursue the most sustainable future possible.

President Bergeron had previously announced the 2030 target date to the campus community, but used Earth Day to publicize this promise. Bergeron  noted that, “The stresses on our planet have only multiplied in the past half-century, making our collective  responsibility at this moment even more urgent.”

“Today is the day we set aside to honor our individual and collective commitment to our planet,” Bergeron  said. Her culminating statement “Net zero by 2030,” was enthusiastically received.

The effort is supported by the Board of Trustees and highlights the College’s continued effort to be a leader in sustainability. The President also revealed for the first time a new commitment by the Board of Trustees to consider responsible investment strategies in managing the College’s financial future.

The net zero pledge is not an empty promise, and is backed by several ongoing actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an economically prudent manner. Several projects are underway to reduce our use of electricity on campus. All outdoor lighting is being upgraded to LEDs, which will reduce energy consumption and provide a more consistent, safer lighting environment. Upgrades of many campus buildings to LED lighting will also begin this summer. Plans for solar array installations are also in design phase.

We have also been working on ways to reduce the direct use of fossil fuels. The addition of air-source heat pumps to several buildings that previously used oil for heating is now underway. These heat pumps will provide energy-efficient heating and cooling and will give occupants more control over the temperature in their offices. Steam trap repairs will also be completed this summer to improve the efficiency of our natural gas powered steam heating system. Finally, new electric vehicle charging stations are planned for installation in two locations on campus to encourage faculty, staff and students to make the switch to electric vehicles. Additional projects are in the design phase that could have significant impacts on reducing campus emissions.

Leading up to the big announcement, students, staff and faculty enjoyed wonderful weather and music as they perused information tables for centers and pathways, created sidewalk chalk art and tie-dye t-shirts, viewed electric vehicle displays, and grabbed a vegetarian lunch from two local food trucks. When taking the Tap Water Challenge, many individuals were surprised to learn that few people could taste a difference between campus tap water and two brands of bottled water, Poland  Springs and Evian. Many of these people preferred the taste of our own campus water to the plastic-encased substitutes.

As part of a campus initiative to move the maintenance fleet to electric vehicles, three styles of Electric low-speed-vehicles (LSV) and an electric car loaned from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy were on display and test-driven by campus community members. Campus safety also showed off its new electric bicycle, which will help reduce their carbon footprint. A mobile solar panel trailer, supplied by Rocky Ackroyd ’83 was also there to provide power and a learning opportunity for students who set it up.

- Henry Fine '24 and Doug Thompson
Spokespeople has worked on various projects towards pursuing our mission of improving bike accessibility on campus. We continued to clean and organize the spokespeople room in the basement of Larrabee and painted a mural on one of the walls. We labeled parts and tools and built a shelf that is now in use. We also strengthened our relationship with the local bike co-op Bike New London and worked with them to learn bike mechanic skills. We proposed a resolution to the Student Government Association and were awarded funding from the Sustainable Projects Fund (SPF) to buy an outdoor bike toolkit and skateboards that could also be for rental. We also held an open tab event in Coffee Closet and gained more members. We were even able to start taking apart bikes and learning how to use different tools. We still have bikes rented out, and we hope to continue and improve the rental program next year.

- Alice Ball '22
The Green Office Certification program is a new initiative that the Office of Sustainability has taken on this year. Offices can opt into the program and receive a level of certification based on their responses to several questions revolving around energy/climate, waste, purchasing, and awareness. Over the year we have certified eight offices and departments on campus in addition to our own. The Goodwin Niering Center for the Environment and Environmental Studies have received Gold Certifications. Admission, Becker House, Hale Career Center, Nichols House, Biology, and the Walter Commons have all received Silver Certifications. We anticipate certifying several more offices on campus and providing more learning opportunities for certified offices with the implementation of "Lunch-and-Learn" monthly events next year. The Green Office Certification program has served as a great way to get staff and faculty involved with sustainability efforts on campus in addition to bringing attention to simple ways to be more sustainable in office spaces! If your office is interested in getting involved, feel free to reach out to us at or ask one of the certified offices about the process.

- Abbi King '22

The reusable “CONNtainer” program was launched this semester, which is a program that allows students to take food out of the dining hall in a reusable container instead of a disposable one. Students who sign up receive a carabiner in their mailbox, which they can exchange for a container at Harris. After use, students drop their dirty container in a bin near the Harris entrance and can ask for a new container to use at that time, or a carabiner, which holds their spot in the program. We found that this exchange process is a straightforward and useful system to ensure containers don’t get lost. Another component to help keep track of containers is to charge a $5 entry fee to the program, which is refunded to students when they return their carabiner at the end of the semester. There is no limit to how often students can ask for containers, and many have taken full advantage of the program so they can take food on the go while also minimizing waste, which is a great option for students who have busy schedules. This semester we had 74 participants, but we hope this program will continue to grow each semester with more students getting involved as well as opening it up to interested faculty and staff members.

- Mary DiMaggio '22
This semester we had two speakers present on campus relating to our theme Pass on Plastic. Youpa Stein from Beyond Plastic presented on the alarming statistics relating to plastic pollution. She spoke about how if the plastic industry was a country it would rank as the 5th largest climate pollution. She is also a visual artist and shared her work that has helped raise awareness on the issue of plastic. Jackie Nunez, a volunteer with the Plastic Pollution Coalition spoke about the Last Plastic Straw Movement she started. She created change by visiting local coffee shops and restaurants asking them to end their use of plastic straws and creating petitions to ban plastic straws. She is featured in the movie Straws, which we screened to see how an individual's actions can go a long way. She spoke about how plastic straws should be seen as a gateway to talk about other forms of plastic. Many people find it frustrating to ban plastic straws when it is such a small part of the bigger issue, but this should be used as a starting point to push for even more to be banned. Both speakers touched on the issue of the convenience of plastic, which has not always existed. Society has evolved into this fast-paced environment that relies on plastic, although this has not always been the case. Single-use plastics are all about convenience and are not necessary in everyday life. 

- Amanda Williams '23
In the Spring Semester the Office of Sustainability had a new addition to their SustainabiliTeams. The goal of the Orientation Video Team was to develop orientation materials for incoming students that would better familiarize them with the different ways to engage with sustainability on Conn’s campus. Although First Year students are provided with some preliminary information and resources, a lot of what the Office of Sustainability does and the opportunities that are available still are not always widely known. The team began this project by first looking at similar orientation content produced by other colleges in order to collect research on what has worked for other schools. From this, they decided that the best video is short but direct in how it highlights a campus’ sustainability efforts and projects. From there, an initial draft video was created which allowed the team to pitch their ideas to those producing the Conn orientation content and receive some constructive feedback. The suggestions were then incorporated into the final draft.

Overall, the team sees this video as being a helpful resource for incoming students who are interested in getting involved with sustainability and want a brief overview on how they can get connected. The hope is that future teams will expand this project to include content that was overlooked. Due to time constraints the final draft of the video had to be cut down which meant having to take out further details on-campus sustainability projects. Hopefully, future teams can use the initial script to produce more expanded orientation content to spread awareness to incoming students about sustainability at Conn!

- Hannah Grinnell '24
This year the Office of Sustainability partnered with Gender and Sexuality Programs to successfully welcome back the Swap Shop with the help of various Sustainability fellows and their group leader Enso Tran '22. The Swap Shop had previously been open in the Fall semester and was being reorganized for the Spring Semester. This group worked hard on finding a permanent location for the Swap Shop, and were successfully able to use money from the Sustainability Projects Fund. The shop had a grand opening on Earth Day this year in the basement of Larabee, room 007. Students across campus were able to donate gently used clothing items, as well as shop clothing items and basic hygiene products for free! Additionally, Enso notes that he is “really excited about the future of the Swap Shop” and other pop-up shops and hopes that students involved in working with the Swap Shop will eventually be paid. He also hopes that the Swap Shop will continue to be maintained in the future as it has already been so popular!  

- Joslen Beslity '22
This year at Sprout we had a great harvest season in the Fall and are currently growing summer crops. We had many work parties where beginner gardeners and experienced gardeners were able to harvest, add irrigation, sow seeds, prepare beds, and meet new people. We were able to harvest yummy vegetables such as: Kale, Collards, Eggplants, Cucumbers, Carrots, Greens, Cilantro, Zucchini, Potatoes, Flowers, Peppers, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Radishes, and Beets. We also worked with FRESH New London with the youth program for harvesting and agricultural workshops! After a mild winter, and warmer weather we are now planting onions, carrots, Broccoli, Cabbage, and Kale. If you are around this summer be sure to stop by and snack on our strawberries in our snack beds! Thank you all for a great year, and we can't wait for you all to see Sprout when school starts again in August!

- Acacia Tramil '22 and Elias Currier '24
Another new spring SustainabiliTeam, under the leadership of Milo Becker '22, worked with a group of staff from Finance and Administration to develop a proposal for replacing our aging campus fleet with low-speed electric vehicles. The team first audited our campus fleet for vehicle types, age and use and compared this list with vehicles used by our peer schools. Finding that we had a high number of total vehicles, they reached out to a variety of offices on campus to find out how their vehicles are being used and how we might reduce the number and size of vehicles on our campus. They ultimately developed a draft policy that requires that low-speed electric vehicles be our first choice for any vehicle replacement with full size electric and hybrid vehicles as the next preferred options. This policy will be formally presented to the President's Sustainability Council for a vote this fall.

The team worked with vendors to bring Club Car Current, Polaris GEM and Vantage electric vehicles to campus on Earth Day.. Staff from Facilities was able to test drive the vehicles before they were displayed at the campus-wide Earth Day event for students, faculty and staff.
We are also continuing to support faculty and staff adoption of electric vehicles with the installation of 2 new charging stations near Palmer Auditorium planned for mid-August. Additional stations are also planned for near Hillel House as the parking area there is redeveloped. Charging remains free on campus until 2024.

-Margaret Bounds
We are excited to announce that the winner of our first Campus Sustainability Leadership Award was Katherine Davis '22. Katherine was the Team Leader for our Communications team and did amazing work spreading the word about sustainability events and initiatives on campus. She took the lead on designing and writing our weekly newsletters, managed our social media posts, and developed graphics for the Pass on Plastic campaign and the CONN-tainers Program. We know that she has a bright future ahead!

-Margaret Bounds
Thank You for Another Amazing Year!
Congratulations to all of our graduating seniors
Shumail Aziz, Alice Ball, Milo Becker, Joslen Beslity, Susanna Buckley, Jean-Michel Bus, Katherine Davis, Mary DiMaggio, Imogen Gillard, Julia Graham, Abbi King, Leah Kosovsky, Grace Neale, Erik Oddsund, Amelia Packard, Acacia Tramil, and Enso Tran.