October 01, 2018 | Connor Bechler

Two college students load a bag of uneaten food into the trunk of a car.
Calvin offers a wide range of sustainability-oriented student organizations, including the Food Recovery Network, which reduces food waste by donating uneaten dining hall food to local congregations and food pantries for distribution.

Calvin has once again been named a Sierra Club Cool School for 2018-2019, recognizing the college’s ongoing commitment to “act justly” towards creation. The list, based on U.S. and Canadian undergraduate institutions’ Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) scores, highlights schools’ efforts to achieve sustainability through curricular, community, and campus initiatives. The STARS scoring framework is a program of the Association of Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education.

“Calvin’s student life sustainability program earned 92 out of 92 points, ranking us number one in Sierra Club’s co-curricular category,” said Becky Haney, Calvin’s STARS liaison, academic division sustainability coordinator, and associate professor of economics.

She noted this ranking reflects Calvin’s wide range of sustainability-oriented student organizations, including the Food Recovery Network, which reduces food waste by donating uneaten dining hall food to local congregations and food pantries for distribution, the Renewable Energy Organization, which promotes awareness of and seeks the implementation of clean energy solutions, and the Environmental Stewardship Coalition, which fosters Christian environmental stewardship and responsibility through peer-to-peer education.

“Calvin also ranks highly for its immersive programs, like First Year Research Seminar (FYRES), and for our programs which use campus as a living laboratory, such as the Calvin Environmental Assessment Program (CEAP) and the Calvin Energy Recovery Fund (CERF),” Haney added.

The FYRES program provides incoming students the opportunity to research Lake Michigan’s coastal dunes and learn about proper dune management. CEAP, started in 1997, is an ongoing interdisciplinary initiative to have science division classes spend one lab session or class project collecting campus environmental data; this data is then used to guide campus policy and identify local environmental issues. CERF is a revolving fund which implements projects aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through reducing energy usage on campus .

Other reflections of Calvin’s commitment to sustainability include Calvin’s 2018 Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation, last year’s addition of 10 acres to the 100-acre campus Ecosystem Preserve, and President Le Roy’s signing of the Second Nature Climate Commitment in December 2017.


To learn more about Calvin’s commitment to environmental stewardship, read biology professor Dave Warners’ article on Creation Care in SPARK magazine.

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