The Lehigh Valley Branch of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC) has honored Lafayette for its contributions to sustainability and green design. The College received the Green Campus award at the council’s gala earlier this month.

DVGBC is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to transform the Delaware Valley through sustainable and environmentally responsible planning, design, construction, and operation of the region’s buildings, landscapes, cities, and communities.

Lafayette began a campus-wide initiative in 2007 to include sustainability in its capital projects and campus operations, as well as making it part of the educational mission of the College through coursework, research projects, student organizations, and community outreach.

The College’s progress can be seen in the dramatic jump to a B from a D- in 2007 in the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s annual Green Report Card, an assessment of hundreds of schools across the nation encompassing nine categories, ranging from climate change and energy to green building and investment priorities.

Many of the College’s projects were already underway when President Daniel H. Weiss signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in January 2008. Lafayette is the only school in the Lehigh Valley that has taken this pledge to reduce global warming emissions and integrate sustainability into the curriculum.

A Sustainability Committee of faculty, staff, and students oversees campus environmental initiatives, and Lafayette has adopted a new Campus Energy Policy and placed achievable sustainability goals in the Facilities Master Plan. The College is in the second phase of a five-part campus-wide energy audit of lighting, heating and cooling, water conservation, and appliances.

Other College facilities initiatives include the adoption of a policy to strive for LEED certification for new buildings and renovations; use of compostable dinnerware and locally grown produce and no longer using trays; a recycling program and a green move-out program to recycle or donate unwanted items; and an expansion of the College’s shuttle service along with the planned conversion of Pardee Drive and Quad Drive to pedestrian walkways to encourage walking and use of mass transportation.

Numerous green projects have come about through student research or organizations like Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection and the Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Some examples of these are the installation of solar arrays on Acopian Engineering Center and at Metzgar Fields, establishment of an organic community garden at Metzgar Fields, a reduction in food waste through composting, planting a vegetated roof on a portion of Acopian Engineering Center, and adding water stations for filling reusable bottles as an alternative to single-use bottles.

Lafayette is also focusing on integrating sustainability components in courses from across the College’s four academic divisions and in many curricular and co-curricular programs and events. The Corn on the Quad environmental sustainability project, the Dig the Earth documentary produced by students and faculty to chronicle it, Earth Week programs, the 2010 Sustainability Student Conference, and the TREEhouse living group are a few examples.