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Since its founding in 1892 Northland College has been both a leader and a pioneer, bringing higher education to the north woods and making a bold decision to be a different kind of college by focusing our mission and liberal arts and sciences curriculum around issues of the environment and society.
The Northland College Board of Trustees initiated the development of the College’s Environmental Studies program.
Northland hosted its first Environmental Conference. Guest speakers were Senator Gaylord Nelson and renowned outdoors writer and conservationist Sigurd Olson. Regional problem-solving workshops on local impacts on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore were also held.
The College enrolled its first class of Environmental Studies students and founded the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute and its advisory board and designated its charter for environmental outreach.
Northland began a systematic upgrade of all windows and boilers in every building on campus.
The Environmental Studies Committee designed the first iteration of the Outdoor Education Program with five distinct Majors.
Construction began on a new building for the SOEI, which features sustainable design principles, and also began a community education program on energy conservation.
Northland created its Peace Studies program as a problem-based but forward thinking outgrowth of the Environmental Studies Program.
Northland College Environmental Council was formed of staff, students, and faculty to determine environmental projects and policies for the College.
“Campus and the Biosphere” conference hosted at Northland to discuss ecological impact of college campuses.
The College became U.S. secretariat for the Lake Superior Binational Forum to promote citizen involvement in a program to virtually eliminate the discharge of nine critical pollutants into Lake Superior.
The College and Institute received the national award for environmental achievement from Renew America. Local, organic food options began appearing in the cafeteria.
Mino Aki, a student-run garden, was created on campus, fertilized by compost from the cafeteria. The garden continues to grow food used in community potlucks and other events, such as fall orientation trips. After a group of students studied the feasibility, Northland’s cafeteria began offering local vegetables.
Students began the Sunshine Community Bike Program, which provides free bikes to anyone who needs to borrow one. The bike shop also repairs bikes, and students can build their own bike in exchange for service hours. The cafeteria has offered vegan and vegetarian entrees at all meals since 1995, and now features 100% sustainably harvested seafood, cage-free shell eggs, no trans-fat frying oils, and Fair Trade coffee.
Northland Student Senate, the faculty, the administration, and the board of trustees signed a self-designed Sustainability Charter and the college president, Robert Parsonage, signed the Talloires Declaration.
The McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center, which served as a model in developing the national LEED standards, began housing over a hundred students a year. The building features the latest sustainable design principles such as furniture and carpet made with recycled content, lighting occupancy sensors, two composting toilets, low-flow water fixtures, three photovoltaic arrays, a wind turbine, and much more.
- Northland College redesigned the Environmental Studies majors to reflect the changes in the environmental careers market and the environmental movement.
- Students finished major construction on the Straw bale Lab, a demonstration off-grid building powered by a small wind turbine and photovoltaic array, and heated through passive solar design and in-floor heat from hot water solar panels.
- Northland adopted a green building policy for all new construction or major renovations, and in 2007, with the signing of the ACUPCC, the college committed to a standard of LEED Silver on all new construction and substantial renovation.
- The Northland College Student Association began including a Renewable Energy Fee for students. The funds raised have been used for many projects, including a Prius hybrid vehicle for the admissions department and a solar water heater on McMillan Hall.
The Craig A. Ponzio Campus Center was constructed, featuring a geothermal heating and cooling system and other green features.
The Eco League was founded, allowing students of Northland and five other green universities around the country opportunities to pursue environmental study at any and all League campuses.
Northland College received the Award for Excellence in Environmental Resources and Stewardship from the American Bar Association.
In the College’s Strategic Plan, Northland’s President Karen Halbersleben reaffirmed the institution’s vision to be the nation’s leading environmental liberal arts college: “Northland College aims, by academic excellence and sustainable practice, to lead the way to a world where human and other biological communities can thrive together indefinitely.”
Northland officially adopted the Natural Step Framework as its definition of sustainability.
Northland became a member of the leadership circle of signatories of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Northland also has affiliations with the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability, National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Program, Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence, Chequamegon Bleague, among others.
- The solar hot water system is completed on McMillan hall, partially heating the water with the sun and thereby reducing the use of non-renewable energy. Students open the Reuse Center, a space to give and receive free clothes, books, and other items instead of throwing them away and buying new. Also in 2007, the Northland College Student Association formed a contract with Bay Area Rural Transit (B.A.R.T.) to provide free transportation to students wishing to travel around the bay area without a car.
- The campus store, managed by Chartwells, stopped using plastic bags and began offering reusable cloth bags. New students can choose to receive a free cloth bag or a reusable mug when they arrive on campus.
- Students in a May term course installed a solar panel array at the President's house. Students participating earned certification in solar panel installation. Dexter Library, renovated in the summer of 2008, is Northland’s first LEED certified building, featuring Northland’s second geothermal system.
- Northland wins two national sustainability awards: a Campus Sustainability Leadership Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and a Sustainability Innovator Award from the National Endowments Institute.
- After positive response from students using the free B.A.R.T. passes, the free service was expanded to include faculty and staff.
- The Mino Aki community garden began producing food for orientation trips, students planted an herb spiral, and Northland became one of 29 schools to receive the first Tree Campus USA designation from The Arbor Day Foundation.
- After a successful fall 2008 pilot project, trays are no longer offered in the cafeteria, saving water and energy while reducing food waste.
- Northland students expand the community garden to include individual summer plots for those who want to grow food, but don’t have a space of their own.
- The Arbor Day Foundation honors Northland College as a Tree Campus USA college for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship. The College is the first college or university in Wisconsin to earn Tree Campus USA status.
- Northland College Student Association created a new student position of Sustainability Director.
- Students enrolled in Sustainable Living: Photovoltaics, helped install 38 solar panels on the roof Dexter Library. With the addition of the solar panels, the library is expected to receive LEED Gold Level Certification and will be heating and cooling neutral.
- Students voted to double their contribution to the Renewable Energy Fund. The fee is now $40 per semester and one of the highest in the nation.
- Mino Aki garden outgrows its space on campus and expands to 3 acres at the AERC site
- Northland's greens growing project starts selling to the cafeteria
- Planning begins for a new compost facility
- The college hires its first Regional Sustainability Coordinator
- Northland joins the Billion Dollar Green Challenge and establishes a $200,000 revolving loan fund for energy efficiency projects
- Initiated "Keep Northland Beautiful" week of celebration and events
- New branding developed for trash and recycling program
- Residence hall renovations feature recycled content flooring, low-VOC paints, and re-upholstered and sustainably-sourced furniture
- An enhanced local food purchasing initiative is launched in partnership with the Chequamegon Food Coop, UW Extension and a number of local farmers
- Composting moves to a new, much larger building constructed of locally-sourced timbers clad in energy efficient structural insulated panels
- The Sunshine Community Bike Shoppe moves to its new location in the Strawbale Demonstration Energy Lab
- Northland's ReUse Room (free store) moves into a new and much larger space in the basement of the Townhouses
Learn about our sustainability initiatives:
Want to learn more?
Contact the Sustainability Office by calling (715) 682-1492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.