Kalamazoo College Awarded Green Generation Consumer of the Year by Consumers Energy

By Olivia Nalugya, Contributor

On the 25th of September, Environmental Studies Concentration Director and Professor Binney Girdler, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Paul Manstrom, and Sustainability Interns Emma Dolce ‘14 and Katie Ray ’14 accepted an award on behalf of Kalamazoo College for its ardent utilization of eco-friendly energy from Consumers Energy – Michigan’s largest utility company.

Green Generation Energy is renew- able energy powered by wind turbines in Michigan and K is one of its top ten consumers. According to Manstrom, the College has been using this kind of energy for about five years now and buys about “7020 kilowatts a year in green generated power”.

K started using Green Generation Energy in 2008, owing to the student’s petitioning of the administration to adopt measures that would reduce the College’s emissions via a sustainability campaign that was dubbed “8 in ‘08”. “They wanted the college to commit to buying 8 percent of its electricity in renewable energy,” Manstrom explained.

Despite the financial cost, the College administration thought it was a request worth honoring. Manstrom admits that there are other relatively inexpensive ways of buying wind-powered energy, but “there is no guarantee where that energy is being produced”.

In 2007, President Wilson-Oyelar- an was one of the over 280 American college and university presidents that signed the President’s Climate Commitment, which is geared towards reducing the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest.

Consequently, over the years the student sustainability interns have spearheaded various projects to ensure that the College follows through with the pledge. Ray indicated, “We are trying to keep the president on track with her climate commitment.”

Students last year also devised a composting program that ensured that food wastes from the College are appropriately disposed. The program description indicated that “the food waste was transported to a local farm to be used as pig feed.” However, in compliance with Michigan’s law on feeding animal waste to animals, the College has purchased earth tub machines that will be capable of recycling all of the cafeteria’s compostable waste.

Manstrom revealed that about 90 percent of the College’s emissions come from energy consumption. Subsequently, computer upgrading, LED lighting, and the installation of motion detectors in almost all campus buildings are measures the College has undertaken to offset the emissions. The purchase and usage of Green Generation Energy has thus contributed to the reduction in the College’s overall emissions.