Mills Receives National Environmental Award

Oakland, CA–July 18, 2016

Mills College received a national environmental sustainability award for itsStarts Silver award efforts to reduce water, gas, and electricity use and for its recycling, reusing, and composting programs.

Mills received the Silver award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Through its self-reporting framework, the organization awards five ranks with Bronze at the top and Silver second.

“Mills is very proud to receive the Silver award for sustainability,” said Linda Zitzner, associate vice president for operations. “Our efforts are inextricably linked to our commitment to be responsible stewards of the world and to social justice. But there is still room to improve, and I hope everyone at Mills continues to contribute in whatever small or big way they can.”

Zitzner added that the award is a culmination of continuing efforts starting in 2008 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015.

The College achieved that goal by installing energy efficient light bulbs in every campus building and installing motion detectors to turn them off when people leave rooms; replacing five natural gas powered boilers that provide heat and hot water with newer, more efficient boilers; encouraging students and staff to take free items from the Reuse Depot that would otherwise go to landfills; diverting food, green waste and recycling from garbage cans and landfills; and saving 27 million gallons of potable water each year since 2009 by using Lake Aliso to irrigate campus lawns, plants and trees.

“One of the things I am very proud of is changing all of the campus lighting from incandescent to florescent lighting,” Zitzner noted. “Through rebates and incentives, that cost us nothing.”

According to Zitzner, although Mills met its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by15 percent, the College continues to find new ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Spanish tiles on campus roofs prevent the installation of solar panels on most of the buildings. The College is, however, considering the installation of a solar hot water heating apparatus on two buildings. And it is exploring the idea of replacing older, outdoor campus lights with more efficient LED lights.

When the new Mills farm begins producing a large enough volume of fruits and vegetables to sell to the campus food provider, Mills will reduce its carbon footprint further by eliminating some food deliveries that arrive by truck.