Berkshire’s electric supplier, TransCanada, produces its electricity through a combination of natural gas plants and hydro-electric dams, with fifty percent coming from renewable resources. Campus buildings are operated and maintained in accordance with sustainable operations and maintenance guidelines and policies that cover impacts on the surrounding site, energy consumption, usage of environmentally preferable materials, indoor environmental quality, and water consumption. New construction projects are designed and built in accordance with LEED standards.
Berkshire School has been actively tracking its carbon emissions annually via the Clean Air-Cool Planet calculator since 2005. The emissions inventory (see below) goes back to 2000 and includes all scope 1 and 2 emissions. It includes the following scope 3 emissions: faculty/staff commuting, student commuting, air travel, bus usage, solid waste, wastewater, and paper products.
The first rendition of the school’s climate action plan was drafted by the sustainability committee in 2007. An updated version, made by students, was presented to the board of trustees in 2008. The school’s 2MW solar field, to be completed by the summer of 2011, and LEED Math/Science Building are the most current large-scale projects articulated in the plan. Berkshire is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2016.
Berkshire students work with physical plant to further the mainstays of the climate action plan, which center around behavior changes and energy efficiency. Students manage outreach campaigns (Green Cup Challenge, Emissions Trading Program, and Oil Reduction Competition) aimed at getting the community to turn off lights and electronics when not in use, use CFL bulbs, keep windows closed, take shorter showers, and enforce temperature set-points of 68°F in the winter and 76°F in the summer. They use professional energy auditing equipment, such as infrared cameras, to perform energy audits of the campus buildings. They also audit the campus fleet to make sure all decisions to purchase/lease vehicles take into consideration mileage as a top priority, manufacture biodiesl from the dining hall’s waste vegetable oil, and actively research ways to offset carbon emissions due to campus transportation.
The administration is currently looking at financial mechanisms, such as a revolving loan fund, to fund efficiency projects. Berkshire also expects to expand its energy management systems, benchmark all buildings with the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and purchase a dashboard for real-time updates of energy data.