POULTNEY, Vt., May 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Green Mountain College President Paul Fonteyn announced today at the school's 174th commencement ceremony that the 700-student Vermont liberal arts school has achieved climate neutrality. GMC becomes the second climate neutral campus in the nation and the first to achieve it through a combination of efficiency, large-scale adoption of clean energy, and purchase of local carbon offsets.
"We take special pride that this milestone has been achieved mostly by steep reductions in our carbon footprint here on campus, and through purchasing carbon offsets that directly benefit our Vermont economy," said GMC president Paul J. Fonteyn.
The announcement was made before an audience including 186 graduates, their friends and families, and Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, who delivered the commencement address and received an honorary doctor of laws degree. Other honorary degree recipients included journalist Tom Wicker, whose influential "In the Nation" column ran in the New York Times from 1966 through 1992, and businessman Robert H. Young, recently retired as president and CEO of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS).
Under Young's leadership, CVPS created the Cow Power program, which extracts methane gas from manure on Vermont dairy farms and converts it into electricity. Green Mountain became one of the first Cow Power customers in 2006. Cow Power participants pay a premium of 4 cents per kilowatt-hour and money generated by the program funds grants to local dairy farmers to develop on-farm generation capacity.In his address, Governor Shumlin told graduates "You have a responsibility that your parents and I never had–you wake up every day knowing that if you don't finds ways to reduce our addiction to fossil fuel that your planet won't be livable for your kids and grandkids. That's kind of a big one. At a time in America when some politicians refuse to acknowledge climate change, you have the tools and skills to combat climate change."