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Office of Sustainability News

Bentley University Achieves 2017 Waste Diversion Rate Goal, Two Years Ahead of Schedule

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS. (April 2, 2015). During the summer of 2014, Bentley University’s Office of Sustainability revamped its recycling, trash, and compost programs. Now, only six months later, the university’s hard work is beginning to pay off.  

With the support of the Bentley community, the university has achieved its 2017 waste diversion rate of 50% - two years early! On average since the start of the new program, the university has achieved a 54% diversion rate, with a high of 60% diversion in January 2015. Along with increased recycling comes increased savings, thus far the program is tracking $42,000 under budget with more savings expected.

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Bentley University Talks Compost, Not Trash

WALTHAM (March 19, 2015). Starting last semester, Bentley University began a new composting process to give its food waste a new life. With a population of nearly 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students, Bentley University’s Office of Sustainability and dining service team are continually collaborating on sustainable strategies to reduce waste and provide more local food options in Bentley’s dining locations.

Sodexo staff in all of Bentley’s campus kitchens separate pre-consumer compost. In other words, all food scraps from the food preparation process are disposed of in compost bins rather than in the trash. In addition, in Seasons, the campus’ main dining hall, Bentley’s kitchen staff separates post-consumer compost. Rather than students separating their own trash from food scraps, kitchen workers separate what students leave on their plate.

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Bentley Recognized for Sustainability Integration

Bentley University is recognized for its integration of sustainability throughout campus with a STARS Silver Rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability across all divisions of higher education. 

With more than 650 participants, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework for calculating a college or university’s sustainability performance.  Participants report achievements in four categories: operations, academics, engagement and planning/administration.

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Diversity Grant Helps Bentley Put a New Face on Accessible Parking Spaces for Individuals with Disabilities

The Accessible Icon Project was recently launched on the Bentley University campus in an effort to put a new face on accessible parking spaces for individuals with disabilities. With support from the university’s Diversity Mini-Grant program, Jessica Low is transforming the International Symbol of Access from a passive stick figure into an active, engaged image. Low is presenting to the Waltham Disabilities Services Commission in May as they look to adopt the Accessible Icon citywide.

“The symbol represents the opportunity for a deeper discussion around issues related to dispelling myths about individuals with disabilities and focusing on their independence and forward motion of their abilities.” says Low, a 2004 Bentley alumna and graduate intern in Disability Services and Undergraduate Career Services. “My hope is that by updating a seemingly innocuous symbol, conversations will be sparked that force people to compare the old icon to the new icon and explore their own views on how society views individuals with disabilities.”

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2014 Climate Leadership Awards Finalists Announced!

BOSTON, MA- Second Nature, a national nonprofit that works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society by transforming higher education, today announced finalists for its 2014 Climate Leadership Awards. The awards, now in their fifth year, are an annual, national competition among colleges and universities that are signatories of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

"The impacts of climate change are being felt at all scales and among all people across the U.S. and the World, and our colleges and universities are clearly at the forefront of identifying solutions, and providing the next generation of responsible and pioneering leaders," said David Hales, President of Second Nature. "This year we are seeing the most innovative and exciting projects yet, and we are thrilled to be able to recognize these institutions and their work."

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Growing Green

Being green at Bentley is a little like gardening. Many hands and the right tools make for lighter work and better results.

Tracking those results is a student-developed Green Certification program, which launched in fall 2012 and helps student groups and campus departments understand the environmental impact of their operations. Residence Hall Association Eco-Reps act as sustainability consultants to measure current behavior and recommend changes that will increase resource efficiency and reduce costs. The program’s auditing tools consider factors such as recycling, double-sided printing and turning off the lights to rank participants at one of three levels — Seed, Sapling or Tree — modeled on the LEED rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Water Bottle Filling Stations Make For a Greener Campus

In the ongoing effort to become a more sustainable campus, Bentley University has found success by installing Elkay water bottle filling stations. These machines are encouraging healthy habits and saving money for the Bentley community.
Currently, there are eight stations around campus with four more to be installed soon. The current water bottle filling stations are located in:
• Jennison Hall -  2nd floor
• La Cava – 1st floor near admissions
• Library – The 1st and 2nd floors
• Trees – Alder 1st floor and laundry room
• Dana Center - Workout rooms 1st and 2nd floors

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Bentley Enhances Recycling on Campus with a New Greenbean Machine

Bentley University is proud to now have a reverse vending machine on campus. The Greenbean Machine’s unique technology has caught the interest of students who have been actively using it since it was installed on campus in October 2013. In its initial months, Bentley students have already used the Greenbean more than any other college with a similar machine.

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EPA Recognizes Bentley University for Leading Green Power Purchase

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized Bentley University among the Top 30 College & University list of the largest green power users. Bentley University came in at number 23 and is using 25 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough green power to meet 100 percent of the university’s electricity use. Bentley is buying renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Renewable Choice Energy, which demonstrates a proactive choice to move away from traditional sources of electricity generation and support cleaner renewable energy alternatives.

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Bentley University is Featured in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges

Bentley University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada, according to The Princeton Review ( The well-known education services company selected Bentley for inclusion in the just-released third annual edition of its downloadable book, “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition."

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Bentley Reduces Carbon Footprint with Wind Energy

When it comes to sustainability, Bentley has raised the bar high.

By setting aggressive goals to reduce its carbon footprint 50 percent by 2015, 70 percent by 2020, and achieve carbon-neutrality by 2030, Bentley is keeping in step with the rest of academia, which collectively has reduced carbon emissions by 25 percent over the past five years. That’s more than any other industry in the United States.

Bentley is following a strategy propelled by a 2010 analysis that found the most effective plan for achieving its goals included projects such as the expansion and continued operation of its energy management system; retro-commissioning buildings; and buying renewable energy. The university installed high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, energy-efficient windows, and LED lighting on all walkways, roadways and parking lots.

“The LED project alone will save $70,000 per year over five years,” says Amanda King, Bentley’s director of sustainability and special advisor to the president.

Despite the headway Bentley made in reducing its carbon footprint, the university still won’t reach its target reduction goals through energy efficiency alone. The next step is investing in renewable energy by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Renewable Choice, using the savings realized from the efficiency projects.

Renewable energy certificates are the way industry accounts for renewable energy. They represent the environmental benefits of generating electricity from renewable energy sources. A wind farm, for example, is credited with one REC for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity it produces. Each REC has a unique identification number so it isn’t counted twice.

Bentley came in $360,076 under its electricity budget for fiscal year 2012, due to sound energy management and an unseasonably warm winter. It invested $25,000 of that savings — 14 percent — into the certificates, which enabled the university to cut its carbon footprint in half and help increase the amount of U.S. wind power on the electricity grid.

Learn more about RECs here

Continue reading about Bentley's Wind Energy Purchase

Empathizing with Skepticism about Climate Change - Dr. Simon Keller Speech

Dr. Simon Keller came to speak at Bentley University on November 6, 2012.  Dr Keller is currently an associate professor in Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.  He is currently an External Faculty Fellow at Rice University.

In his lecture, Dr Keller discussed how people form opinions about scientific matters that they do not fully understand and how this lends itself to skepticism specifically related to the issue of climate change.  He also examined how people should respond to those opinions which differ from our own.

To watch the lecture visit:

Car-Sharing Comes to Bentley; Furthers Carbon Reduction Efforts

Bentley recently partnered with Zipcar, Inc., the world’s leading car-sharing network, to offer the transportation option to its community. The car-sharing option is now available for students, faculty, and staff ages 18 and older, as well as members of the local community ages 21 and over.

Initially, two Zipcars will be located in the Miller Hall Parking Deck on campus - a Ford Focus and a Toyota Prius.  Zipcars are self-service and can be reserved and accessed at the member’s convenience.

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Office of Sustainability works with Sodexo to decrease Styrofoam presence in campus dining

Bentley’s Office of Sustainability has been working closely with Sodexo and the Student Government Association to address the use of Styrofoam in campus retail outlets. Styrofoam has been found to have a negative effect on human health and the environment. According to recent studies, Styrofoam loses weight when in use, indicating that chemicals (mainly styrene & benzene) in the product leak into food and drink.  Exposure to styrene and benzene results in various health issues including: fatigue, blood abnormalities and, in some cases, cancer. Styrofoam is not biodegradable or recyclable which means that all Styrofoam containers sit in landfills forever. Furthermore, Styrofoam is extremely light-weight which tends to travel by wind into other areas such as oceans. Sodexo has been working very hard to eliminate the use of Styrofoam in campus retail outlets. Thus far all Sodexo areas are free of Styrofoam to-go containers, opting for paper and plastic instead. Paper products are biodegradable and lack the hazardous chemicals associated with Styrofoam and plastic containers can be recycled.  Sodexo has recently worked with Dunkin Donuts, Curritos, and Mein Bowl to make the change to paper as well which further confirms the dining service provider's commitment to sustainability.

Bentley Eco-Reps create “Green Calculator” to measure sustainability in campus organizations

Student organizations and academic departments are being asked to partake in the Eco-Reps' newest project: a “green calculator” which rates organizations on a sustainability scale. The calculator operates on a point system – organizations receive points in various categories for each “green” criterion that is reached. For example – if an organization opts to send out information via e-mail instead of using paper flyers, they receive 5 points. Once the department or club is audited, their points will be tallied out of the total possible points to determine their Green Certification Level. There are three levels of certification; Seed, Sapling, and Tree. Seed ranking is the base ranking and certifies that the club or department is an active participant in the Certification Program. Tree is on the opposite end of the spectrum that shows the organization is making all efforts to operate in a sustainable manner and is actively promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. Incentives to participate include recognition in the Vanguard, a spot on the Green Certification Board in the Smith stairway, various gift cards and mugs, and of course the knowledge that your organization is a pioneer in eco-friendly operations.