We affirm our sustainability values through leadership, public commitments and benchmarking progress towards meeting our sustainability goals.
Sustainability Strategic Plan
The Sustainability Strategic Plan was adopted by President John Williams in May 2018 as part of his charge to the re-energized President’s Committee on Sustainability. It sets measurable goals for Academics and Co-Curricular Initiatives, Buildings and Grounds, Food and Dining, Energy and Climate, and Planning and Administration.
STARS Gold Ranking
In 2019, Muhlenberg earned a STARS Gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The College earned the highest level of recognition received by any Lehigh Valley higher education institution.
With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation and leadership. Muhlenberg had previously received a STARS Silver designation.
2019 Sustainable Campus Index
Muhlenberg has been recognized as a top performer in the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, receiving a score of 100 percent for best practices in the area of water conservation. The College tied for the fourth spot among all higher education institutions nationally for water conservation and reuse, as well as effective rainwater management practices.
Carbon Reduction Advocacy
In 2019, President Kathy Harring and other Pennsylvania leaders made a public statement urging lawmakers to accelerate the state’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
In 2017, President John Williams joined the initiative recognizing climate change as an important challenge and calling on leaders to endorse a price on carbon.
Green Revolving Fund
The Green Revolving Fund supports the Sustainability Strategic Plan by funding projects that reduce the College’s greenhouse gas emissions. The energy savings are reinvested into the Fund until the project is paid back.
The Fund enables investments in renewable energy, alternative fuels and energy efficiency; provides a continuing source of funding for reducing GHG emissions by dedicating a portion of cost-saving from funded projects to the Fund and encourages broader societal action by demonstrating best practices in GHG mitigation.
In 2020, Muhlenberg entered into a historic project to collectively purchase solar energy with three other Pennsylvania colleges. Along with other campus initiatives, the off-campus solar farm enables the College to have a carbon-neutral electricity footprint for the first time. Together they will purchase the largest amount of solar power of any group of independent higher education institutions nationally.
Students will intern with the solar farm developers, access the energy production data for research, and watch drone footage of the construction.
The College has also invested in three solar projects on campus to serve as an educational resource for students and our broader community. For these projects, students installed the solar PV system, including two pole-mounted nine-panel arrays, two inverters, new conduit and a data collection system. The arrays are manually adjustable and solar radiance, wind, temperature and electricity production data will be available for ongoing research and analysis. Real-time energy-generation data is continually available.
Plant Operations Policies
The Office of Plant Operations is committed to sustainability in its core functions. We support a healthy community and respect for the planet in our policies and work.