GLCA Grant to Provide Albion an Environmental Dashboard

The initiative with four partner colleges will result in a tool that will give a more real-time feel to sustainability efforts, both on campus and in the community

February 11, 2015

Lower Baldwin dining hall was completely renovated in 2013 in partnership with the College's dining provider, sustainability-focused Bon Appetit Management Co.
Lower Baldwin dining hall was completely renovated in 2013 in partnership with the College's dining provider, sustainability-focused Bon Appetit Management Co.

Albion College—in partnership with Antioch College, DePauw University, Hope College, and Oberlin College—has been awarded a grant from the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) as part of its “Expanding Collaboration Initiative,” funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative’s purpose is to foster programs of teaching, research, and outreach across college campuses to heighten awareness of how human behaviors affect the well-being of the natural environment, as well as the sustained vitality of human society in local settings and the broader global context.

The project to be supported by the grant is called “Environmental Dashboard Implementation in Multiple GLCA Colleges to Foster Collaboration across Campuses.” It includes collaborative initiatives that seek to educate populations – on college campuses, in public school systems, and in local communities – about how changing practices can result in a more vibrant and sustained future for humanity.

The Environmental Dashboard, developed at Oberlin College, is a communication technology that combines real-time display of water and electricity use in buildings, organizations and whole communities with photographs and words contributed by community members that celebrate positive thought and action. Using electronic signs and websites, Environmental Dashboard employs compelling graphics to reconnect people with the natural world by making flows of resources visible and promoting sustainable behavior.

“Albion has long sought to involve all parts of the College in educating our students about sustainability,” said Doug White, adjunct assistant professor of biology and associate director of the College’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment. “It's our One College philosophy. Students learn about the environment when they eat locally sourced foods in the dining hall; when they study under high-efficiency lighting retrofits; and when they walk across our award-winning green grounds. Environmental Dashboard will help everyone to better see their connection to the resources that sustain them.

Energy-saving LED up-lights were installed around buildings on the quad in 2013.
LED up-lights were installed around buildings on the quad in 2013. Read more

“We also envision Environmental Dashboard as a clearinghouse tool for sustainable living in Albion,” added White, who led Albion’s grant effort. “In particular, the winning feature of this initiative is that it can link Albion College and the Albion community in advancing sustainability.”

During the next two years, a core team of faculty and staff across campuses of the five participating GLCA member institutions will work to install the Environmental Dashboard technology to engage their respective institutions in curriculum development, research and community outreach around the tool and instill cross-campus dialogue and collaboration. They will be joined by an extended team of up to twenty-five faculty of multiple academic disciplines in addition to staff members who will be recruited through a series of workshops and outreach initiatives that will take place on the five campuses in the spring of 2015.

The project seeks to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including faculty, staff, administrators, facilities personnel, sustainability officers and students in the participating campuses to make Environmental Dashboard a common digital platform for communication, collaboration and creativity.Sustainability at Albion College

For a number of years, Albion College has been recognized for its sustainability efforts. It has been featured in The Princeton Review’s Green Guide to Colleges, and in 2014 was included among Sierra magazine's Cool Schools. The College celebrated Sustainability Theme Years in 2013-14 and 2010-11, and in 2007 the Science Complex was only the third science facility in Michigan to earn LEED certification.

For more information on the College’s sustainability efforts, visit albion.edu/sustainability.

In Fall 2014, the College received a separate grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that is enabling faculty to develop innovative programming that will challenge students to be active participants in the arts and humanities through hands-on learning experiences. Read more