What We Do at Wellesley
There are a number of sustainable initiatives happening all over campus, whether it's in Operations, Dining, or our Design and Constuction projects. See below to learn more about what has been happening recently.
If you are interested in becoming more sustainable as a student, a department or any member of the community, please see our Getting Involved sections for our student, faculty, and staff programs that you can take part in today.
In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved the Green Buildings Standards proposed by the Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability. Since its founding, Wellesley College has celebrated the design of its buildings and their place in the campus landscape. This document builds on that tradition by adopting a process and establishing building standards that reflect both Wellesley’s history and demonstrate its commitment to sustainability. These building standards respond to the College’s commitment to integrating environmental sustainability considerations into major institutional decisions.
As a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Wellesley College tracks our sustainability efforts through AASHE's Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System, or STARS. The program uses self-reported information to measure how well colleges and universities perform in five areas of sustainability: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.
In 2019, Wellesley earned a gold rating, improving upon our 2015 silver rating. This was a cross-campus effort, made possible through the launch of a comprehensive sustainability plan, the Year of Sustainability, and a multipart energy initiative as well as numerous academic and campus engagement programs, such as the Paulson Ecology of Place Initative and the Green Office Certification. You can read more about our most recent gold rating here.
Wells on Wheels
In order to reduce the amount of bottled water that is purchased for events, the Office of Sustainability built 3 water stations known as Wells on Wheels that connect directly to our own municipal water supply. The stations are reservable on 25Live for outdoor events. This not only reduces waste from plastic bottles, but it also reduces excess water consumption and allows people to get just the right amount that they need. Furthermore, it reduces the transportation emissions that would otherwise be due to bottled water distributors.
Water Bottle Filling Stations
Since 2011, Facilities has been installing water bottle filling stations across campus. These stations not only make it easier to fill resuable water bottles, they also keep track of how many plastic water bottles have been saved from the landfill. So far we have saved over 40,000 bottles from being consumered and thrown away. Please see below for a list of locations across campus.
- Keohane Sports Center
- Green Hall
- Trades Building
- Pomeroy Residence Hall
For information on Wellesley's drinking water, please see our consumer confidence reports.
Surplus food from Wellesley College cafeterias is used to provide nutritious meals for individuals and families who struggle to buy food for themselves. In 2018, Wellesley joined with other colleges and organizations, including Babson and Olin, that donate food to the nonprofit Food For Free, based in Cambridge, Mass. This is the first time Wellesley has participated in the program.
Food For Free trucks pick up prepared foods and fresh fruits and vegetables from Wellesley’s dining halls (which are run by vendor AVI Foodsystems) and deliver them to its operations center in Cambridge, where they are repackaged into single-serve meals. In 2017, Food For Free distributed 2 million pounds of food; the food they collect helps feed 30,000 people in the Greater Boston area.
Alison Cross, who works for Food Rescue Initiatives in the town of Wellesley, which coordinates local food collection for Food For Free, said that food recovery addresses two important issues. The first is food waste. Forty percent of food produced in the United States is thrown away even though it is perfectly edible. As refuse, it ends up in compost or dumped in a landfill, where it takes up space, decomposes, and generates toxic gases like methane, said Cross.
Second, the meals serve people who are “food insecure”—that is, they don’t have access to nutritious food on a regular basis, said Cross. They might live in homeless shelters, temporary housing such as motels, or homes without adequate kitchens, or they might be elderly people who rely on Meals on Wheels.
For more on Food For Free, please visit their website.
Wellesley College's annual Sustainable Move-Out started in the spring of 2010. Now, every year in May, the Office of Sustainability provides large orange bins to each residence hall for students to donate their good-quality dorm items that they are unable to bring home with them. Instead of throwing these belongings in the trash, they are resold at the Sustainablity Sale during Orientation at a fraction of their retail cost. Items that are sold include containers, furniture, mini-fridges, rugs, lamps, and more. All proceeds of this event go towards sustainability projects on campus. Items that are not resold are donated to charities in the area. Clothing is sent to the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation in Boston, and school/dorm supplies are given to Grad Bag. We hope that by getting students involved in reducing unnecessary waste and consumption, they will become more environmentally conscious and promote a more sustainable community.
Wellesley's Public Transportation, Shuttles & Zipcars
Wellesley students, faculty, and staff have access to numerous shuttles, public transportation options, and Zipcars that can help them lower the carbon footprint getting to and from campus. Visit the Getting Around and Public Transportation pages for updates.
- Open to 18+ students (international drivers welcome)
- Discounted university rates by the hour or day
- Gas, insurance, maintenance and up to 180 miles/day included
- Great for grocery shopping, a quick errand or weekend getaway
Other Options & Offsets
- Visit our Bike Share page to learn more about the biking program for students
- Get credit for traveling sustainably with NuRide
- Offset the greenhouse gas emissions from your travel with TerraPass