Reporting System

Progress Report for Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Submitted on Jan. 15, 2012; Last updated on Jan. 13, 2012

The Progress Report is intended to help signatories assess and track progress toward the goals outlined
in their Climate Action Plans and to share that progress with their stakeholders and the general public.

click on a section heading below to expand its content; click again to collapse

General Statement of Progress

The signing of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary Grant resulted in focused effort to address sustainability and climate change as an institution. The formation of the Sustainability Committee (Green Team) and designation of a staff position to coordinate sustainability activities on campus led to focused actions. Student awareness of MCLA’s signatory status with the ACUPCC had resulted in the formation of a Sustainability Committee within the Student Government Association (SGA) and attendance at all Green Team meetings by an SGA representative. The Environuts student club formed in 2010-11 and has increased student attendance at Green Team meetings and student led activities with an environmental sustainability focus on campus.

MCLA's Strategic Plan (2011) includes a “Responsive and Intentional Stewardship” goal to “Secure MCLA’s future through the innovative, strategic, and informed development of our human, ecological, and financial resources.” Sustainability is included as a strategy in support of this goal: “Work towards environmental sustainability.” Action plans are being developed to ensure that the institution moves towards this goal. These will include plans to promote environmental responsibility as a core institutional value and to strengthen the Sustainability Committee (Green Team) and to embed an institutional commitment to sustainability into the campus master plan. In addition, the strategic action plans will further solidify MCLA’s commitment to support sustainability through academic and co-curricular programs and to work with our local partners within Berkshire County to protect the environment and work towards climate neutrality in our region.

The inclusion of environmental sustainability in the institutional Strategic Plan is an exciting development and will serve as another reminder of our commitment to sustainability and climate neutrality education and action. As large and small decisions are made on campus, students, faculty, and staff will be more likely to consider the impacts on our carbon output and how the decision meshes with strategic plan action plans.

Our plan for carbon neutrality has three parts:
1- Update controls to measure and track changes
2- Education on conservation
3- Implementation of renewable energy source projects.

GHG Emissions & Reduction Targets

Climate Neutrality Target Date: 2050
Interim Milestone Emission-Reduction Target Target Date Baseline*
20% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2015 relative to baseline emissions in 2007
30% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2025 relative to baseline emissions in 2007
40% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2035 relative to baseline emissions in 2007
[click to view Climate Action Plan - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Climate Action Plan]

GHGs summary

GHGs for Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Reporting Year Gross Emissions Net Emissions Full Time Enrollments Total Bldg. Sq. Ft. [action]
2007 8015.0 7325.0 1831.0 669593.0 [ view ]
2009 7019.0 6329.0 1788.0 669593.0 [ view ]
2012 6500.0 6500.0 1802.2 668731.0 [ view ]
  • Change in GHG gross emissions


  • Change in GHG emissions per 1000 sq.ft. building space


  • Change in GHG emissions per full time enrollment (FTE)


Education, Research, & Community Engagement


  • How is your institution making climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students?

    As described below, the most recent MCLA Strategic Plan includes a sustainability goal and environmentally focused strategy. The inclusion of sustainability in the MCLA Strategic Plan is an exciting development and an indication of the institution’s dedication to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum and other educational experiences.

    Climate change and sustainability concepts are an integral focus of the MCLA Environmental Studies Department and campus sustainability continues to be incorporated into several courses. In particular, the Green Living course includes a series of lectures by visitors with an environmental sustainability theme. In learning about campus sustainability through other Environmental Studies courses, students review and study the photovoltaic array, tour the boiler plant and the small geothermal installation with the campus Energy Manager, carry out studies and education projects around recycling on campus, and in Spring of 2011, surveyed the locations of automated light switches for the recent State of Massachusetts-funded campus energy study. Environmental studies internships often focus on sustainability on campus or off. Campus sustainability internships include planning and implementing the campus garden(s), carbon footprint analysis, and recycling program development. Off-campus internships have included invasive species removal, stream connectivity with the Hoosic River Watershed Association, sustainable agriculture farm internships, land stewardship with Berkshire Natural Resources and the Nature Conservancy, and internships with Berkshire Photovoltaics.

    Several specific courses in other departments have central sustainability and climate neutrality themes including Environmental Economics, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Law, Chemistry and the Environment, Energy and the Environment, and Environmental Geology. Several of these were developed when the Environmental Studies major was implemented in 2001. In addition sustainability and climate change concepts are woven into many other courses through individual lectures, student projects, reading material, and class discussion. We will be continuing to explore ways to encourage and support the inclusion of these concepts across all departments whenever possible and over the next year, we will continue to collect information about where sustainability and climate change concepts are already being taught. We will explore the possibility of including sustainability in the core educational requirements.

    The Sustainability Committee (Green Team) and the Environuts student club provide educational opportunities that are open to all students to learn about sustainability. In April 2011, an environmental studies intern organized a panel discussion about sustainability in our community, open to the campus and wider community. Panelists included the Mayor of North Adams, Richard Alcombright, the Assistant Director for the Center for Eco-Technologies, the college sustainability coordinator, and representatives from other community organizations. In November 2011, the Green Team partnered with the Arts Management program staff and held another panel discussion about sustainability on campus with guests from Water Is Rising, a group of performers from Central Pacific islands that are directly threatened by rising sea levels.

    In addition, we have hosted global leaders in sustainability for public lectures, including Bill McKibben in 2007, Vandana Shiva in 2010, and Steven Leibo from the Climate Reality Project in 2011. Also in 2011, MCLA Presents! hosted Water is Rising performers from central Pacific islands that are threatened by rising sea levels.

  • Education methods in use

    • Other - Public events open to the campus and wider community. Campus-wide recycling programs. Environmental sustainability is now included in the MCLA Strategic Plan. Action Plans for this objective are in development. Green campus website has been developed.

  • Does your institution offer an undergraduate degree program(s) related to climate change/sustainability?

    Environmental Studies major

  • Does your institution offer a graduate degree program in climate change/sustainability?



  • Does your institution have a central sustainability website that consolidates information about the institution's sustainability efforts?


  • Does your institution include sustainability prominently in new student orientation?

    We provide information about conservation and recycling programs at orientation. In 2012, we plan to expand the sustainability information available at new student orientation.


  • If applicable, how is your institution expanding research efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality research?

    Construction of the Center for Science and Innovation is underway at MCLA with completion planned for September 2013. The American Colleges & Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment Implementation Liaison for MCLA is the primary coordinator for this building project and has involved the Sustainability Coordinator and other sustainability leaders on campus in plans to incorporate green building and landscaping design features. The building will meet Massachusetts LEED Plus standards, as required by Massachusetts Executive Order 484 and may exceed these requirements. Rain gardens, native plant landscaping, photovoltaic solar arrays, and geo-thermal systems have all been discussed as possible features. The Center will both model green building and sustainability concepts and will also provide new lab spaces and equipment to support research. Research initiatives by faculty and students will greatly benefit from this up-to-date facility. As a small liberal arts college, MCLA faculty focus primarily on teaching but there are several small research projects currently underway that address climate change. In the Chemistry department, staff and students are making biodiesel and are ready to try this fuel in campus equipment. In Environmental Studies, student interns have measured the temperature of the Hoosic River as it flows through concrete flood chutes in North Adams. This research will contribute to the development of a plan to naturalize the river and increase its resilience to climate change.

  • Does your institution have a program to encourage student climate and or sustainability research?

    Both the Berkshire Environmental Resource Center and the Undergraduate Research Conference encourage student climate and sustainability research.

  • Does your institution have a program to encourage faculty climate and or sustainability research?

    The Berkshire Environmental Resource Center encourages faculty climate and sustainability research.

Community Engagement

  • How is your institution expanding community outreach efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality?

    Within the next year, the Green Team plans to convene a meeting with other sustainability leaders in Berkshire County. MCLA is a lead partner in the Berkshire Compact for Education, an initiative designed to increase the high school graduation rate and the number of students who go on to attend and graduate from a higher education institution. This network of four higher education institutions, all Berkshire County public school districts, and many businesses and community groups, is a possible venue within with to build an environmental sustainability network (perhaps the Berkshire Compact for Climate Change & Sustainability). The goal would be to work together to generate greater understanding about climate change and a set of action steps as well as to explore how this region can educate and involve youth and college students in positive work to address climate change. The MCLA Green Team will begin by inviting leaders in campus sustainability from neighboring institutions to meet and share ideas. We will discuss how we can support sustainability work across all our campuses and define a regular meeting schedule. The MCLA Center for Service and Citizenship in Student Affairs Department offers opportunities for students to work on sustainability related projects on campus and in the community. These service activities have included working on the campus garden, insulating homes, and volunteering on local organic vegetable farms. MCLA is about to launch a bike share program which will allow students, faculty, and staff to check out bicycles from the library to use locally. This initiative came out of the Center for Service and Citizenship and with strong support from the Environuts student club and Environmental Studies students, it is now moving forward under the leadership of the Dean of Student Affairs. The publicity around the bike share program and the networking with bike groups in our region, has provided an important community outreach opportunity. The MCLA Berkshire Environmental Resource Center (BERC) serves as the outreach arm of the Environmental Studies department. The BERC Coordinator attends community and organizational meetings with an environmental or sustainability focus throughout Berkshire County. These partnerships support the Environmental Studies department internship program. The BERC Coordinator is also the Green Team chair and the campus Sustainability Coordinator and can facilitate natural linkages between community sustainability efforts and the college. For example, the BERC Coordinator attends the community networking Green Drinks gathering monthly in North Adams. This is an opportunity to share ideas and updates with community members and other organizations and institutions about how our region is addressing climate change.

  • Does your institution participate in community climate change and or sustainability partnerships?

    We have contacted or visited several other institutions to learn about their sustainability programs, including Middlebury College, Bennington College, Keene State College, and Mt. Wachusett Community College. We will be convening a gathering of sustainability leaders from neighboring higher education institutions to share ideas. The Berkshire Environmental Resource Center Coordinator participates in collaboration meetings with the Hoosic River Watershed Association and Berkshire Regional Planning Commission related to climate change planning. A faculty member from the Environmental Studies department and the Vice-President of Administration and Finance serve on the Hoosic River Revival Coalition, a organization working to restore the river as it flows through flood chutes in North Adams. In addition, the Berkshire Environmental Resource Center partners with many local organizations to promote climate neutrality.

  • Has your institution advocated for federal, state, and/or local public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance your goal of climate neutrality?


Energy & Finances

Energy Efficiency Projects

  • Number of Energy Efficiency Retrofit Projects planned, but not yet implemented:


  • Number of Energy Efficiency Retrofit Projects completed since signing the ACUPCC:


  • Number of buildings that have received a green building certification since signing the ACUPCC:


  • Number of green buildings planned or scheduled for completion in the next 2 years:


  • For all buildings, the green building certification/rating used is:


Renewable Energy

  • Annual output (in kWhs) for each renewable energy system utilized by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

    • Solar output: 9164 kWh

    • Wind output: 0 kWh

    • Biomass output: 0 kWh

    • Fuel Cell output: 0 kWh

    • Geothermal output: 202000 kWh

  • Other GHG mitigation efforts:
    Geothermal has 202,000 BTU/hr for cooling and 228,000 BTU/hr for heating

Financial Data

  • Amount spent on CAP projects:


  • Estimated amount saved to date from implementing your CAP projects:


  • Additional information or context to support expected savings:

    2011, past 12 months
finance methods...
  • Financing Methods utilized for Mitigation or Renewable Energy Projects:
    • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
    • Other
        State grants; power purchase agreements

Non-public data

This data is available to signatories with reporting system access.
"" fields in which no data was submitted have been omitted from this report

For more information about Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts's climate & sustainability efforts please click here