Berea College Mountaineers Host Carbon-Neutral “Green Games”

Berea College hosts Kentucky’s first carbon-neutral basketball game in a doubleheader with Alice Lloyd College men and women’s teams on February 18 in the Seabury Athletic Complex. It’s just the second time a carbon-neutral basketball game has been played in the country.

Called the Green Games, these contests will draw attention to carbon offsetting, a process to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are linked to adverse effects on the climate. By measuring how much energy is used to heat and light the gymnasium during the events and the miles traveled by the opponents, college officials calculate that 24 trees are required to offset the games’ carbon emissions.

“While we have calculated the number of trees needed in one year to offset this game, the trees don’t turn off after one year,” says Joan Pauly, sustainability coordinator for the college. “That’s the message of the Green Games… that a one-time investment can have a 40-year return and you can help preserve our environment for the next four decades by simply planting a tree.”

The college will plant native tree species on campus in the spring. Each tree will remove an estimated 86 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year. Altogether, these two dozen trees will offset an estimated 2,064 pounds of carbon each year.

Matt Partain, grounds team leader at Berea, will select species that should thrive in the planting locations. “Trees are the atmosphere’s natural scrubber,” says Partain, who has been instrumental in the college’s recognition as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. “Over their lifespans, the trees we will plant should remove more than 37 metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere. That’s more than 80,000 pounds.”

Berea’s path to sustainability is a campus-wide effort with significant participation and leadership from students. The student-led environmental service group HEAL (Helping Earth and Learning) is instrumental in promoting energy conservation and the use of clean and renewable energy sources though direct-action projects and education opportunities in the community. HEAL helped coordinate the educational activities associated with the Green Games.

These carbon-neutral games are just the latest example of the college’s commitment to reducing and eventually eliminating or offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations and to promoting sustainability to the campus, local community and region. As a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Berea College has pledged in part to model ways to minimize greenhouse gas emissions with the ultimate goal of climate neutrality.

During the last decade, Berea College has been recognized as a national leader in sustainability for innovative and effective ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

The college has renovated and retrofitted many campus buildings with a focus on ecological design and green-building techniques. In 2005, Berea opened the Ecovillage, an ecologically-sustainable residential and learning complex designed to provide living and working opportunities for students interested in sustainability.

In 2013, Berea opened the Deep Green residence hall, one of the world’s “greenest” that is on target to achieve LEED Platinum certification and Petal Recognition under the Living Building Challenge. Furnishings in the residence hall were made from wood harvested from Berea’s 8,000-acre forest, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Lincoln Hall, the college’s administration building, earned a Silver certification in 2004 and historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant was the first hotel in Kentucky to earn a LEED Gold certification in 2010.

The college’s commitment to sustainability extends far beyond construction.

The Sustainability and Environmental Studies program offers a minor as well as sponsorship for an independent major. The Agriculture and Natural Resources department offers sustainability and ecology-related courses in addition to operating an on-campus farm that is one of the oldest continuously operating and most highly diversified student educational farms in the country.

Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Arbor Day Foundation, green game, Seabury Center, Tree Campus USA

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.