About Coe > Environmental Sustainability

Coe Green:
college committed to environmental sustainability

Coe College is committed to environmentally friendly practices and sustainability. As an educational institution, Coe recognizes its responsibility to provide leadership in this area. In the past few years, there has been increased emphasis on various green initiatives on campus, including:

American College and University President's Climate Commitment:

  • Coe President James Phifer was a charter signatory, joining more than 665 college and university presidents around the country.
  • In the most recent greenhouse gas inventory, Coe has cut its carbon footprint by 19% in the past four years. A significant part of the decrease was due to switching from coal to natural gas to heat the campus, utilizing the LEED certified steam plant shared with St. Luke’s Hospital.
  • Coe has committed to design future building projects to be as energy efficient and environmentally responsible as possible. The remodel of Peterson Hall was carried out using LEED standards, which included recycling as many of the construction materials as possible, as well as many water- and energy-saving updates.
  • Coe purchases ENERGY STAR appliances and electronic devices whenever possible.
  • Coe has developed a climate action plan for moving the college toward climate neutrality.
  • Coe Sustainability Council (composed of Coe faculty, staff and students) helps oversee implementation and monitoring of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.

Coe Environmental Club:

  • Student-run organization active in Coe's movement towards environmental sustainability.
  • Launched the project called CoeBIKES! The program uses donated bikes that are available for students, faculty and staff to check out and use free of charge. The college received a $1,000 grant from Rockwell Collins to use for repairs, locks, paints and helmets.
  • Initiated planning, fund-raising, and implementation for a permaculture garden on campus. Find out more about permaculture and the garden on the Environmental Club Blog.

    Sheet Mulching - November 4, 2012
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    Planting - April 28, 2013
    Click here to view photos from the planting of the garden on April 28, 2013.

Coe Wilderness Field Station:

  • Located five miles north of Ely, Minnesota, it is adjacent to the largest and most pristine wilderness area in the eastern half of the United States.
  • Coe assumed operation after the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) decided to discontinue operation of the field station.By doing so, a portion of the 2 1/2 million acre Superior National Forest has been preserved.
  • Groups paddle directly by canoe from the field station to the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in about two hours.
  • Visitors can paddle to Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park in about eight hours.
  • Gives students an opportunity to experience nature in many different ways.

Environmental Studies Major:

  • One of Coe's newest programs offers students in any major the opportunity to add broad study of environmental issues to their program of study as a collateral major.
  • Program features coursework in environmental ethics, environmental economics, environmental literature, and environmental science.
  • The capstone seminar brings together students from a variety of disciplines to focus on a complex environmental problem.

Environmental Science Major:

  • Offers a rigorous education for preparation for careers in natural resource management, environmental monitoring, and graduate work in the field, and is also engaged in solving environmental problems in the community.
  • Students can work with Trees Forever to inventory the urban forest in Cedar Rapids utilizing GIS and GPS technologies.
  • Students study microbiological processes involved in bioremediation of hazardous metals in the sub-surface environment.
  • Students assess eastern Iowa water quality and find ways to address water pollution problems.
  • Check out Coe's rain garden, which is instrumented for research and for use in classes.

Dining Services (Sodexo):

  • Tom Wieseler, Director of Dining Services, was recognized as the 2012 Iowa Recycling Association's Recycler of the Year. Thanks to his efforts, Coe Dining Services had been composting all food waste since 2005.
  • Recycles all cardboard, plastic, cans, glass and paper.
  • Worked with the Coe Environmental Club to start the Coe Garden, which grows vegetables-some of which are used in the cafeteria, especially during the summer.
  • Discontinued the use of all disposable cups in the cafeteria-students are now required to use Nalgene bottles or their own water bottles.
  • After doing waste studies "The U" has been trayless since May '09 graduation.
  • Uses biodegradable cups, plates and silverware at campus picnics.
  • Uses only biodegradable napkins in the cafeteria.
  • Traditional midnight breakfast during finals week is now served using real china, which eliminates paper product waste.
  • Future goals include minimizing the amount of waste caused from students taking too much food during meals, and installation a "green" roof on a portion of Gage Memorial Union.

Academic Computing:

  • More than over 6,000 pounds (greater than 3 tons) of computer and network equipment are recycled each year. All of Coe's outdated technology is recycled by a licensed company that disposes of monitors, printers, computers and network equipment in an environmentally safe way.
  • Coe has replaced lab printers with new, more efficient duplex printers. The change saves the college more than 100 cases of paper per year - that's over 500,000 pages of paper saved by using duplex printing.
  • Power savings: Campus computers and monitors shut down when they've been idle for more than one hour. The computer and monitor come back to life when users hit the space bar on the computer. This saves the college over $10,000 per year in electrical use.
  • Coe has replaced its old servers with new, efficient blade servers that shared storage. The college is saving $4,800 of electrical use every year with this arrangement.