Mills College Celebrates 13 Big Milestones for Sustainability

Oakland, CA—April 22, 2019

In honor of Earth Day, Mills College is taking a moment to celebrate its ongoing commitment to clean energy, sustainability, and doing its part in protecting the planet.

Milestone #1: Presidential Climate Commitments

Climate Commitments

In 2007, former Mills President Janet L. Holmgren signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, now known as the Carbon Commitment. Three years later, Mills adopted its first intermediate Climate Action Plan. Most recently, in 2016 President Elizabeth L. Hillman signed a letter from higher education to then President-Elect Trump and Congress urging them to promote a clean energy future.

Milestone #2: Climate Action Plan Kick-Off

President Kicks Off 2025 CapIn 2017, the Mills Climate Action Plan was updated to the 2025 Climate Action Plan and endorsed by President Hillman.

Milestone #3: Working Towards Climate Justice

Working Toward Climate JusticeMills sent representatives to the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in February 2019 and shared the current work that other campuses have implemented across the United States to address climate change with the Mills Commons.

Mills also held a conversation with President Hillman to discuss our own efforts addressing climate change on campus in light of the global student movement and the March 15 Youth Climate Strike.

Milestone #4: Natural Sciences Building is Platinum Certified

Moore Leed Platinum CertificationThe Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building received LEED Platinum certification in 2007, using 89 percent less energy than a typical San Francisco Bay Area lab and obtaining about one-third of its electricity from rooftop solar.

Milestone #5: Business School Building Goes Green

Photo credit: Nic LehouxIn 2009, the newly constructed building housing the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy received LEED Gold certification. It has a 4,000-gallon rainwater cistern used to flush toilets, a green roof which mitigates the heat island effect in adjoining offices, and in-floor heating and displaced air, providing maximum comfort and increasing user health with better indoor air quality.

Milestone #6: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions and Improving Air Quality Efforts

Electric Vehicle ChargersThis year, Mills has been approved to receive high-power, fast electric vehicle (EV) chargers on campus through Electrify America and Greenlots, Electrify's subcontractor. This opportunity will add to our efforts to address climate change and, at the same time, help Mills serve students, faculty, and staff who drive electric vehicles. There will be 10 EV charging spaces available at Rothwell Center where users will be able to purchase electricity at the Mills rate.

Milestone #7: Light Upgrades and LED Street Light Replacement

LED Street Light ReplacementThrough PG&E energy efficiency programs, Mills was able to upgrade building lighting throughout campus in 2012 and is looking to convert to LED replacement in the near future. Private grants have allowed Mills to convert many campus street lamps to LED.

Milestone #8: Waste Reduction

Reuse Depot2019 marks another year of running the Reusables Drive, an on-campus opportunity for student residents to donate reusable items they do not need to the College's Reuse Depot. The Reuse Depot provides useful free items for incoming students at the beginning of the new year and donates items to local charities, reducing hundreds of pounds of waste that would otherwise be sent to landfills. If you are a local program or charity and would like to provide a needs list, please email

Mills has implemented food and soiled paper composting throughout residential halls and buildings. Annual campaigns and initiatives such as RecycleMania and Mills Compost the Most increase zero-waste awareness and education throughout the campus community.

Milestone #9: Water Conservation and Drought Response

Turning Off Fountains for Water ConservationSince 2009, Mills has used water pumped from our on-campus lake to irrigate campus landscapes. In March 2014, Mills shut off all water fountains that required potable water as part of our drought response and water conservation efforts.

Milestone #10: Carsharing

ZipcarsTwo Zipcars are available at the Richards Parking Lot near the front gate on campus, helping reduce student transportation costs and lowering the College’s carbon footprint. Students, faculty, staff, and alums can receive discounted memberships.

Milestone #11: Outreach and Engagement

Earth Day Creek CareMills engages the wider community around sustainability initiatives, both on campus and off, through a variety of programs such as:

  • The Eco-Representative Program, which continues to support, mentor and engage students in gaining experience with sustainability efforts at Mills
  • The 2019 Mills Transportation Fair, which resulted in over 100 carpooling application downloads
  • The Bay Area Spring Break 2019 Food and Environmental Justice in Action spring break field trip
  • The Girl Scouts Think Like a Citizen Scientist and Creek Care Day events with Mills
  • Earth Month, including City of Oakland Earth Day Creek Care and the Mills Community Farm Festival

Milestone #12: Reducing Natural Gas Consumption

Replacing Boiler UnitsSince 2012, Mills has replaced six boiler units with smaller and more efficient systems, reducing our greenhouse gas footprint.

Milestone #13: Growing the Campus Community Farm

Mills Community FarmThe Mills Community Farm provides fresh organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers to Bon Appétit—the campus’ food-service company—and community businesses such as Communitē Table. The farm also sells its produce and flowers at a farm stand every Thursday outside the Mills Tea Shop. The farm practicum class engages students on topics such as food justice, food security, and sustainable urban farming.

About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women and gender non-binary students, with graduate programs for all genders. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized as one of the Best 384 Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. Since 1852, we’ve been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers and leaders who take and inspire action. Take a virtual tour.