Fort Lewis College (FLC) is off to a strong start for campus sustainability this fall. In September, FLC was named a Sierra Club Cool School in recognition of the campus’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. In October, Princeton Review named Fort Lewis one of the 361 most environmentally responsible colleges. Recent action for sustainability on campus has centered around renewable energy, green buildings, and food purchasing.
In 2016, over half of Fort Lewis's electricity was generated with renewables, purchased as renewable energy credits through the LPEA Green Power program. Fort Lewis also produces electricity on campus with solar panels on the Student Union and Berndt Hall; more solar is on the way in 2017.
Using renewable energy is part of Fort Lewis College’s commitment to the climate and to carbon neutrality. Between 2011 and 2015, Fort Lewis reduced its carbon footprint by 21% through updating inefficient equipment on campus, such as boilers; replacing and updating light fixtures with efficient bulbs and occupancy sensors; and adding insulation to the residence halls.
Fort Lewis is committed to environmental practices even as we grow. The new Geosciences, Physics & Engineering (GPE) Hall is going for LEED gold. LEED is the preeminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of high-performance green buildings. The GPE Hall is registered with the certification goal of LEED Gold. Green construction and certification are expected to be complete by spring 2017. The Student Union, Biology Wing of Berndt Hall, and Animas Hall are all LEED-certified green buildings.
The Real Food Challenge saw success this year too. As part of a national movement to shift food purchasing towards food that is ecologically-sound, locally-grown, fairly-produced, and humanely-raised, Fort Lewis is committed to spending at least 20% of the school's food budget, nearly $320,000 annually, on real food by 2020. As of 2016, 7% of the food at Fort Lewis meets the challenge.
In pursuit of this goal, farmers and students have been raising cattle, pigs, pinto beans and vegetables at the Old Fort and at the Environmental Center Campus Garden for consumption in the dining hall. Along with local food, Fort Lewis dining features coffee produced under fair labor practices, ecologically-sourced foods such as organic tomatoes, onions, and squash and 100% Marine Stewardship Council certified fish.
As a highlight of this program, the Environmental Center launched the nation’s first Vote Real campaign, an initiative that provides campus diners with the opportunity to choose which foods they want to permanently shift to ‘real’ foods three times each year. The Environmental Center also runs a large-scale composting process and, last year alone, captured 26 tons of dining hall food waste. The compost is used in the student-run campus garden, which in turn grows food for the dining hall.
Learn more about Fort Lewis College sustainability at www.fortlewis.edu/sustainability.