September 20, 2023 —Collington continues its charge to be part of a larger solution to the negative impacts of climate change by investing in joint sustainability initiatives between staff and residents. While making a significant impact on helping the environment can seem daunting, efforts as small as reducing plastic bottles and as large as conducting a comprehensive energy audit all move the needle towards a more sustainable approach to utilizing limited natural resources and impacting the earth’s climate.
Notably, Collington’s Sustainability Plan, which covers three years starting in 2021, starts with the “Avoidance of Harm”, and focuses on improving energy efficiency, purchasing “green” products and reducing waste. The plan also recognizes the balancing act of using natural resources, such as food to eat, while meeting sustainability goals through efforts such as replanting every head of lettuce that makes its way to the salad bar.
The primary objectives identified in the Sustainability Plan include eliminating waste and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy options. The development of nine initiatives stemmed from these objectives and identified specific sustainability actions to implement across the campus.
Although there are always ways to improve a community’s sustainability efforts, Collington is proud of the efforts made so far, and is excited about ongoing initiatives. For example, residents across the community collected and recycled plastic film and earned a second TREX bench that sits proudly on the campus. A TREX bench is a high-performance composite bench awarded when a team collects more than 500 pounds of plastic refuse in six months (about 40,500 plastic bags).
The campus also converted outdoor lighting along the roadways, parking lots, and covered walkways to LED fixtures, an energy-efficient and dark-sky compliant option. Additionally, the campus ceased using herbicides and pesticides on lawns, plus fundraised for electric vehicle charging stations, which were installed in early 2023.
Other initiatives were carried out by the culinary staff, who committed to paying closer attention to the vegetarian options on the menu. In fact, in 2022, the number of vegetarian meals increased three-fold. The composting program for resident food waste also grew, expanding from four bins to six. Furthermore, an ongoing effort is being made to calculate Collington’s carbon footprint from building energy use over two years.
Steve Woodbury, a resident and member of the Collington Climate Action Committee, shares, “Collington offers a wonderful opportunity to work with neighbors and the administration to address climate change, the defining issue of our time. We want to have a livable world for our grandchildren. Collington community members have a lifetime of experience and professional expertise to help bring about the changes we need. We can make a difference by working with our neighbors, the administration and residents across Kendal.”
By implementing the Sustainability Plan, Collington is prepared for the effort needed to impact change and will be a part of shaping a greener future. Through a collaborative approach between staff and residents, the community will effectively reduce waste, improve energy efficiency and shape a new direction for culinary options on campus. This year has provided notable wins and, most importantly, engaged many staff members and residents in making a positive impact on the environment.