At Luther, we hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to sustainability—in fact, part of our mission is to "practice joyful stewardship of the resources that surround us." 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.
The Center for Sustainable Communities coordinates all sustainability initiatives at Luther College. The mission of the Center is to promote sustainability and be a catalyst for change on campus and in the region.
As a leader in college campus environmentalism, Luther has made some serious commitments to renewable energy. In 2013, we completed installation of one of the largest solar arrays in Iowa. This brings our total solar array count to three, with two more underway. 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.
This fall, Luther College received its rating as the 9th most sustainable college in the United States. This recognition comes from the strong efforts of the Center for Sustainable Communities, and Luther's commitment to sustainability as an institution. Luther was also given a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. Through this rating system, AASHE identified Luther College in the top ten baccalaureate institutions in the U.S. in their “2019 Sustainable Campus Index” report. For the college, this award affirms the steps that Luther has taken toward a sustainable future, while also challenging the college to continue this work, and be a leader for other institutions to take on this challenge.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.
"Earning the STARS Gold rating affirms the diverse ways Luther has been committed to sustainability over the years and demonstrates that our efforts are both wide and deep. This ranking also affirms all of the hard work of those who helped us to be in the position we are today. Some of those folks are still on campus, but others are putting their shoulders to the wheel elsewhere.”
- Jim Martin-Schramm, Professor of Religion and Center for Sustainable Communities director