"I love being able to make a positive change on campus every day when I come into work."
At Luther, we hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to sustainability-in fact, we consider it part of our mission. We recognize that sustainability goes hand in hand with a just, equitable, and prosperous society, and we work hard not only to green our campus practices but also to teach students through academic courses and campus life that creating a sustainable society is a responsibility that falls to each of us.
As a leader in college campus environmentalism, Luther has made some serious commitments to renewable energy. In 2013, we completed installation of the largest solar array in Iowa. This brings our total solar array count to three, and we now use solar energy to completely power two facilities that house more than 120 undergraduates. Our wind turbine, erected in 2011, harnesses a second renewable energy source and supplies a third of Luther's power, dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and enabling us to shrink our carbon footprint while we work toward our goal of carbon neutrality and other sustainability commitments.
We've had a tradition of recycling at Luther since 1973, and in addition to recycling waste from classrooms, offices, and residence halls, we compost pre- and post- consumer waste from the cafeteria and use it to enrich our many college gardens. Produce from the gardens helps supply the cafeteria, and Luther purchases many of its other food products from local, sustainable providers. We also strive to build new campus construction to the LEED silver standard or equivalent, and we use hybrid, electric, and biodiesel vehicles in our campus fleet. These are just a few of the many measures that we've taken as stewards of the natural world around us.
Luther is proud to be recognized as one of the most sustainable schools in Iowa and the nation. Among recent distinctions, we earned a STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) silver rating, a 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award, and, in 2013, a listing as a top green college in The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges and recognition by the Sierra Club as one of the nation's greenest universities. As a recognized leader in campus sustainability, we consider it a responsibility to promote ecological and wellness efforts throughout the region. Our outreach initiatives include food and health programs in northeast Iowa, particularly in the public schools, as well as environmental clubs, camps, and classes for children. In 2013, we opened the Center for Sustainable Communities to act as regional sustainability resource and coordinate campus and community efforts.
Sustainability isn't just lip service at Luther—it's part of our ethos.
Calculations for Luther College's 2013-2014 Carbon Footprint have been completed and released.
The Center for Sustainable Communities is looking to hire a Food and Farm Fellow for the 2015 season.
Mid-September saw Luther College’s very own Dr. Laura Peterson jet off to sunny Barcelona, Spain to meet with other paleoclimatologists from colleges and universities around the world. There wasn’t much time for paella and strolling the cobbled streets, however, as she and her colleagues had an important matter to discuss: climate conditions during the Pliocene period.