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College Initiatives

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Sustainability Commitment

As a leading provider of technical education, training and technological resources in our communities and Wisconsin, Gateway Technical College will:

  • Establish, promote and monitor a culture of sustainability and economic responsibility throughout our business and educational policies and practices.
  • Serve as a community model for embracing respect for the environment and be proactive in embedding related learning outcomes within and throughout all curricular areas.
  • Embrace sustainable community development through student engagement and service learning.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the global need for sustainable education through the accountability standards established under the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.
  • Achieve carbon neutrality - emitting net zero greenhouse gases - by 2030.

Energy & Transportation

Sustainability goal: Gateway's goal is to increase energy efficiency, explore renewable energy options and reduce our transportation footprint.

Achievements to date:

  • Gateway has installed a variety of wind and solar energy systems district wide that have produced a total annual savings of  $2,000.
  • The Burlington Center purchases 100 percent of its electricity from the We Energies Energy for Tomorrow renewable electricity program.
  • The college has expanded opportunities for courses via distance learning and for delivery of services online, helping reduce travel.
  • To encourage students and faculty to drive greener vehicles, preferred hybrid car parking spaces are available at all facilities. All campuses also have bike racks.
  • The information technology department has moved aggressively to reduce computer power consumption. More than 80 physical computer servers have been "virtualized" which eliminated an entire computer room, reducing cooling requirements, freeing space for other purposes and saving $52,000 in annual energy costs.

Plans for the future:

  • The college aims to complete one or two solar, wind or other renewable energy projects per year.
  • College-owned vehicles are being evaluated with an eye towards replacing older units with newer, more efficient models.
  • More improvements are being planned to cut electricity consumption from computers, including software that shuts off a computer after a certain time period and energy-saving innovations like thin client hardware and ultra-slim desktop computers, requiring one-half to as little as one-eighth the power of current models.
  • Other measures that will be explored to reduce travel are: creating alternative class and work schedules, creating a website to help students and staff arrange carpools and identifying the most efficient routes for travel between campuses.

Buildings and Grounds

Sustainability goal: Reduce the environmental impacts of Gateway's campuses by using LEED Silver as the minimum standard and using sustainable practices in the maintenance of buildings and grounds.

Achievements to date:

  • Gateway follows State of Wisconsin policies that require new buildings and expansions to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard. Gateway also employs cost-saving green practices in cleaning and paper usage in partnerships with local companies JohnsonDiversey and Kranz Inc.
  • The college is steadily upgrading building mechanical and control systems to improve heating and cooling efficiency and indoor comfort.
  • A college-wide lighting retrofit program replaced older fluorescent lighting with new high-efficiency fluorescent lamps.
  • During building expansions and remodels and at other feasible opportunities, the college installs water-saving fixtures. New water fountains and some retrofit fountains have bottle fillers to reduce use of commercial bottle water.
  • The college uses fertilizers and herbicides only when necessary and uses environmentally-friendly salt substitute to melt ice on sidewalks and some parking areas.
  • Where possible, drainage systems on college sites are designed to minimize runoff.

Plans for the future:

  • Initiatives are being explored to save energy by centralizing room scheduling and synchronizing the schedule with lighting, heating, and cooling controls. This will allow automated shutoff of lighting and setback temperatures when rooms, wings or entire buildings are not in use.
  • The buildings and grounds team continues to explore options for sustainable maintenance, including environmentally-friendly fertilizers and pesticides, used only when necessary. 

Recycling & Waste Reduction

Sustainability goal: Increase our waste diversion recycling rate by 50 percent by 2030.

Achievements to date:

  • The college aggressively recycles computers, printers, monitors, fluorescent lamps and other electrical equipment. Some older computers are donated to local non-profit organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, and schools within the district.
  • During building and remodeling projects, demolition and construction waste materials are recycled to the greatest extent possible. Materials include concrete, metals and wood.
  • All offices recycle materials such as office paper, cardboard and corrugated packaging, newsprint, aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Waste Management records indicate that the volume of recycled materials collected totals 64 tons per year.
  • Cups made from compostable recycled material and plastic flatware made of biodegradable cornstarch are used when food and beverages are served at events.

Plans for the future:

  • Staff will collect and track data on the makeup of college waste materials. All campuses and facilities will be encouraged to recycle useable scrap metal, wood and other materials from instructional programs.
  • The staff will be vigilant in exploring opportunities for new waste reduction programs. As one example, the Horticulture program will develop an advanced composting system to recycle all campus organic waste into compost for use on campus urban farm plots and for general grounds maintenance.

Policies, Processes and Procurement

Sustainability goal: Apply sustainability in our work environment by adopting clear criteria that will be considered in purchasing and contracting decisions, reducing consumption of goods, and providing training and necessary tools and resources to staff.

Achievements to date:

  • The college has centralized purchasing for all equipment and service agreements of more than $25,000. Campus and facilities staff are encouraged to purchase energy-efficient equipment, with ENERGY STAR ratings where available.
  • Requests for proposals require all product and service vendors to submit their sustainability policies and state what measures they will take, if selected, to support Gateway's sustainability efforts.
  • Surplus or obsolete equipment and materials are disposed of cost-effectively and sustainably including donations to charity and recycling.
  • Policy requires the college to promote and invest in energy conservation, use of alternative energy, water conservation and use of environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Plans for the future:

  • Staff has developed an energy and sustainability dashboard that will be used to track and report on sustainability initiatives such as recycling volume and energy use.
  • New computer printers will be required to have double-sided printing capability to conserve paper.  The college initiated a more centralized "pay for print" system in 2012 that discourages unnecessary printing, with a goal of reducing printing volume by 50 percent.