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Whitman campus from the air

The Earth’s climate has always fluctuated throughout time, but since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, the Earth’s climate has been changing at alarming rates. Many human activities result in the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which cause global temperatures to rise. These polluting activities mostly involve the combustion of fossil fuels and are important to many aspects of our society such as transportation, manufacturing and the generation of electricity. However, other activities that don’t involve fossil fuels can release greenhouse gases as well, such as raising cows for the food industry.

We have already begun to see the effects of a warming planet. We have watched forests burn, glaciers melt and hurricanes outnumber alphabet letters. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of dire consequences if the global temperature rises beyond 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels before the end of the 21st century. Currently, the temperature has risen by .76°C. These are some of the consequences that scientists predict:

  • Increased drought and water quality issues
  • Widespread famine and disease
  • Increase in quantity and intensity of natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes and floods
  • Mass migration
  • Increased species extinction

More information about the impacts of climate change can be found through these resources.

Climate change will have disastrous effects on not just the natural environment but also our economic and social world. Climate change calls for bold action, and Whitman answers this call.

This comprehensive list outlines our current standing on climate action.

Progress Towards Carbon Neutrality Dashboard

Climate Action Plan

In order to mitigate the college’s impact on global carbon dioxide levels, Whitman College adopted a Climate Action Plan in the Spring of 2016. This document establishes our goal to reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050 and provides a roadmap by which Whitmane can reach this goal. Climate neutrality means that Whitman,, through its operations and activities, does not contribute any net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. In the Climate Action Plan, the Sustainability Working Group advised that Whitman can reach carbon neutrality by mitigating emissions to a reasonable degree and by purchasing or creating offsets for the remainder of the college’s emissions.  

In order to mitigate the college’s impact on global carbon dioxide levels, Whitman College adopted a Climate Action Plan in the Spring of 2016. This document establishes our goal to reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050 and provides a roadmap by which Whitmane can reach this goal. Climate neutrality means that Whitman,, through its operations and activities, does not contribute any net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. In the Climate Action Plan, the Sustainability Working Group advised that Whitman can reach carbon neutrality by mitigating emissions to a reasonable degree and by purchasing or creating offsets for the remainder of the college’s emissions. 

Methods of emissions mitigation are broken down into five overarching categories: operations, transportation, solid waste and purchasing, curriculum and research, and communication and outreach. 

The path forward is as follows:

  1. Offset natural gas and electricity greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, cutting net emissions in half. 
  2. Continuously improve campus facilities via efficiency upgrades and maximizing solar collection to minimize gross emissions.
  3. Develop better means for measuring and tracking Scope III emissions. Scope III is the remaining 50% of emissions, which do not result from core operations. Emissions from this Scope stem from purchased goods and services, electricity line losses, commutes and others.
  4. Minimize Scope III emissions. 
  5. Offset Scope III emissions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. 
  6. Continue to refine and reevaluate carbon mitigation and offset goals and strategies via Climate Action Plan updates.

Divestment from Fossil Fuels

In November 2018 the Whitman College Board of Trustees approved steps to begin divesting the college’s endowment from fossil fuels. This page provides updates of the actions made by the Investment Committee since their commitment toward divestment from fossil fuels.

Living at Whitman In the past decade Whitman has aimed to follow the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in the construction of new buildings. In 2019 Stanton Hall and Cleveland Commons achieved Platinum and Gold certifications in USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Sustainability is intended to remain at the heart of future phases of the Living at Whitman Initiative as the college seeks to expand housing options and the sense of community among junior and senior students.

Stanton Hall and Cleveland Commons

ZGF Architects of Portland, Oregon designed Stanton Hall and Cleveland Commons to the specifications set forth by Whitman's Residence Life committee, which was informed by multiple studies of student needs. Stanton's homelike environment and Cleveland's varied meal and on-the-go options were top priorities. Throughout the process, the designs and construction were held to the highest possible standards of sustainability, utilizing sun shades, natural lighting and ventilation, LED lights, water conservation measures and other means to reduce energy consumption. Features of Stanton Hall include 1.5 solar panels per occupant, electric vehicle charging stations and low-flow water fixtures. Stanton Hall has been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum level, and Cleveland Commons earned a gold rating.

Hall of Science

Hall of Science Interior

The expansion of the Hall of Science in 2002 brought with it many remarkable design features, such as the beautiful center staircase in the atrium, with woodwork made from the local trees that were felled for the expansion. The original building, constructed in 1963 and expanded in 1981, received a $13 million redesign that included state-of-the-art facilities and an award-winning heating and cooling system.

Baker Ferguson Fitness Center and Harvey Pool

Baker Center

The $10 million construction of the fitness center and swimming pool in 2004 included a heat recovery system that recaptures and recycles the warm water vapor that rises off the swimming pool. After running through an evaporator, the water and latent heat are extracted and used to heat the pool. 

Reid Campus Center

Reid Campus CenterThis 50,000 square foot red brick building constructed in 2002 provides a central hub to campus as well as a model of sustainable design. The large south-facing windows allow sunlight to enter in the winter, naturally warming the building. Programmed vents open and close to outside air to capitalize on natural convection techniques for cooling.

Penrose Library

The February 2020 LED lighting retrofit of Penrose Library is expected to reduce the building’s lighting system energy consumption by 50%, saving over 500,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

From a sustainability perspective, energy is arguably the most important resource that we manage. Energy consumption is responsible for a significant portion of Whitman’s carbon emissions. Conventional methods of energy generation rely heavily on burning fossil fuels, which means that in our efforts to reduce emissions we must make improvements in the resources we use to generate energy, use less energy and improve energy efficiency.

Solar Energy Dashboard    Electricity and Natural Gas Usage Dashboard

Sustainable energy use is accomplished both at the institutional level as well as the individual level. These are three of the important ways to reach sustainable energy consumption:

Energy Conservation involves using less energy. This can be accomplished through changing our practices to accomplish tasks in a less energy-intensive way, or increasing energy efficiency. Individual every day actions can include: turning off lights when not needed, powering off and unplugging computers and other electronics when not being used, turning down the thermostats and taking shorter showers.

Energy Efficiency is achieved through the use of technology that helps us reduce our energy use including: more efficient LED light bulbs, occupancy and vacancy sensors, energy-efficient mechanical and HVAC systems and appliances, and more.

Renewable Energy is the final piece of the pyramid. After reducing energy use as much as possible through conservation and increasing efficiency, remaining energy needs can be met by renewable sources. Renewable energy sources can include solar thermal, solar photovoltaic and wind, among many others.

Water in the Walla Walla Community

Walla Walla receives an average of 20.86 inches of precipitation each year. Our water is delivered and purified via a complex system. While this system adds to our regional carbon footprint, the hydroelectric system offsets a significant portion of our regional carbon footprint. Whitman College draws most of its water from the Mill Creek Watershed, but when that flow declines during summer months, supplemental water is drawn from deep wells below ground. The changing environmental dynamics of our region and issues related to water security continue to increase questions related to our future water supply. Therefore, it is imperative that we manage this precious resource as wisely as possible.

Campus Water Usage

Around campus, water is used in many ways. Between bathrooms, dining, academic departments and residence halls, our water usage is extensive and requires careful monitoring. Water is a finite resource, so we must be conservative in our consumption.

Water Use Dashboard

Water Use at Whitman

Transportation is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions. At Whitman, we encourage walking, cycling, carpooling and riding public transit. This page contains useful information for traveling around the Walla Walla area.


  • Walla Walla Valley Transit: Provides regional bus services. There are two routes that service Whitman College. Route 1 services the Isaacs Ave Corridor (near Olin Hall) and Route 4 services a loop around the campus neighborhoods. The main station is located at North 4th Ave. and Main St. The standard cash fare is 50 cents for fixed routes and 75 cents for Dial-A-Ride. Monthly passes are available. All buses have a bike rack.
  • The Grape Line: A shuttle service that provides rides from Whitman College to the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Regional Airport.
  • Campus Ride-Share: Do you need help getting somewhere, or are you looking for a carpool? Check out the campus rides listserv: rides@lists.whitman.edu
  • Whitman Express: Provides student bus services to and from Seattle and Portland during breaks.


  • Whitman College Bike Share: The Bike Share allows campus community members to check out a bike to do errands, get some exercise or take a leisurely ride in the wheat fields. Students can check out the bikes from the Penrose Library circulation desk. It works a lot like a book, except with gears! Helmets and lights are also available for checkout; we want people to be safe while they're having a blast.
  • Whitman College Bike Shop: The Outdoor Program operates the Campus Bike Shop. At the Bike Shop students and campus community members are welcome to come and work on their bikes with bike shop equipment free of charge. The Bike Shop mechanics are available during the business hours. They can assist with repairs, fix flat tires and answer questions. The Bike Shop also carries a small selection of bike merchandise including: bike tubes, locks, horns, lights, gloves and bike bags at very reasonable prices.
  • City of Walla Walla Bike Map: Walla Walla requires a bike license to operate a bike within the city limits: "It is the City Ordinance to license your bike in the city limits. Contact the Records staff at the lobby of the Walla Walla Police Department. The license cost is $5 each and are good for as long as you own the bike. New owners should license their bike immediately. You will need your model number, serial number, make, color and speed of your bike to license it."

Electric Vehicle Charging

In the fall of 2018 Whitman College established their first electric vehicle charging stations as part of the carbon neutrality plan. These stations are partially fed by power generated by solar panels on Stanton Hall.

About the Charging Stations

The SemaConnect charging stations are located at 147 S. Park St., Walla Walla, WA 99362. These stations are located in the parking lot next to Stanton Hall and the Hall of Music. There are two, type 2 stations with a J1772 hookup. There is a parking fee of $0.35 per hour required to utilize the stations. In order to start charging please follow the instructions below.

Ways to Start Charging

  • Use the SemaConnect app on your smartphone.
  • Pay with PlugShare and ChargeHub apps: Find our charging stations and start charging directly through their app.
  • Open any mobile browser and go to network.semaconnect.com. Follow the prompts to begin charging.
  • Call 1-800-663-5633 and follow the prompts to start charging by phone.
  • SemaConnect Pass: Wave your card in front of our charging stations to start charging

For more information about Semaconnect please go to: www.semaconnect.com

Charging Station Rules

Please note that under RCW 46.08.185t: "It is a parking infraction, with a monetary penalty of one-hundred twenty-four dollars, for any person to park a vehicle in an electric vehicle charging station provided on public or private property if the vehicle is not connected to charging equipment."

Additional Parking

Adjacent to our charging stations there is a parking space reserved for low emission vehicles.
If you have questions, comments, or concerns please call 509-527-5999. If you have an issue with establishing a charging session please contact Semaconnect. If you have any other issues outside of normal office hours please call Whitman Security at 509-527-5777.

Whitman College Transportation Survey 2017

Reducing waste production is a central part of sustainable practices. Careful decisions are made about how to best reduce, reuse, recycle and source materials in all spheres of life at Whitman.

Refer to our Waste Dashboard for specific information about Whitman’s waste.

Zero Waste

As a campus community we are striving to become a zero waste institution. This means that we are mitigating our campus carbon footprint through a reduction and elimination of our waste stream. Zero Waste looks at the environmental impacts, social issues and the financial impact of our waste.

Our goal is to reduce the college’s impact on landfills and to educate our community about how to live more sustainably. Program participants are working to design, use and manage products and processes to eliminate all waste while also working to conserve, recover and recycle all resources.

Dining Hall Waste

In time for the start of Fall 2019, Bon Appétit partnered with the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life to launch an improved reusable to-go container program using Eco-Takeouts at Cleveland Commons. Students are given an Eco-Takeout card during orientation which they can trade in for a container at no extra cost. Once used, the container can be traded back for the card. The option of using reusable containers for transporting food outside of the dining hall has a significant impact on the amount of waste produced every day. Single-use to-go containers are still available with a 30-cent charge for guests or others who do not want to participate.


Recycling updates are here! Cleaning up our recycling stream will take every one of us working together to recycle ONLY what’s accepted—and to do it right.

Do Recycle

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum and tin

Empty, clean and dry your items before recycling
To see a full list of accepted materials in Phase I, and stay up to date on progress toward Phase II, visit www.wallawallawa.gov/recycling.

Do not recycle

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Plastic bags

For hazardous waste and electronic waste please contact Environmental Health & Safety: 509-527-5966 or ehs@whitman.edu.

What can you do to help reduce contamination and costs? When in doubt, find out!
Have you ever stood before a recycling bin, item in hand, and thought “it says it’s recyclable, so it must be” or “this must be recyclable, I’ll put it in and someone will figure out a way to recycle it”? This is wishful recycling, and it’s one of the main reasons we have such a high contamination rate in the U.S. We can and must do better.

Recycling’s global challenges need local action. Walla Walla is introducing some key updates to keep our recycling system resilient in the face of change. From product packaging to shipping materials and single-use takeout containers, much of the plastic we encounter day to day is not readily recyclable. It damages equipment, degrades the value of other recyclables, and adds costs system wide, which are paid by rate payers. To address this issue, the Walla Walla City Council formed a Recycling Ad-Hoc Committee in February 2020 and asked its seven members to recommend a practical strategy for containing or reducing the cost of recycling while preserving and encouraging responsible recycling. After conducting a review of Walla Walla’s current recycling system, the Committee put forward a set of recommendations:

  • Eliminate plastics as an accepted recycling material as Phase I of a two-part approach to decontaminate the local recycling stream.
  • Launch a public information campaign to provide guidance on how to recycle correctly.
  • Periodically monitor the quality of the recycling stream.
  • Once contamination has been successfully reduced, move to add high value/recyclable plastics back onto the list of accepted recyclables (Phase II).
  • Campus Recycling

These recommendations were approved by the City Council on Oct. 14, 2020.

Why now? The abundance of non-recyclable plastics in our economy, “wishful recycling” behaviors and new market restrictions are straining local recycling programs. Costs are adding up.

Recycling is not just an environmentally beneficial action. It’s also a global economy formed around the buying and selling of used resources. For the past two decades, nearly half of the plastics recycled worldwide were being shipped to China, where low-paid workers salvaged material from highly contaminated loads. In 2018, the government of China introduced strict requirements for quality and cleanliness of incoming loads of recyclables. Shipments that didn’t meet these new standards were rejected on arrival, leading to the notorious floating barges of dirty recyclables, adrift in the Pacific with no port to call home. The sudden removal of the world’s most reliable market for recyclable material is impacting recycling programs around the globe.

Campus Recycling

Who picks up what? Where does it all go?

Our student driven recycling center is coordinated with the assistance of the Physical Plant and the Office of Sustainability. Some smaller buildings on campus, including the interest houses, are serviced by the Walla Walla's curbside pickup. All other campus buildings have their recycling picked up at designated locations by a small team of student employees. The Recycling Center employees use the same truck to drop off loads of recycling to the Recycling Center, behind the Outhouse, where a Recycling Assistant sorts and bales the waste. We are unable to take community drop-offs, but community recycling can be taken to Walla Walla Recycling.

What's the story with glass?

Unfortunately, glass is not recyclable in Walla Walla due to a deflated market for it as a raw material. The best course of action is to reduce the amount of glass you consume and reuse it whenever applicable. When needed, put glass with other trash bound for the landfill. Glass does not decompose, and therefore does not contribute to climate change as waste. It physically breaks down into sand. Students can collect glass and transport it to cities with the proper recycling facilities. Such trips are self-organized, so keep an eye on listservs!


As an institution of higher learning, paper is a crucial resource. The college consumes this resource with great care, making the most sustainable choices possible when it comes to sourcing, discarding and replacing paper materials.

Where does Whitman buy its paper?

Whitman purchases paper through a bid process. Bids are requested from several different paper companies and the company that can deliver the paper that is certified as 100% recycled to their specifications at the lowest price is selected.

What you eat and where it comes from has a significant impact on the environment. Food production carries a substantial carbon footprint and contributes to other harmful processes including soil depletion and pollution via runoff. In order to mitigate our campus ecological footprint we encourage you to purchase food from local sources that utilize ecologically sound methods.

The production of food releases different amounts of greenhouse gases, depending on the type. To see the carbon footprint of your favorite foods, visit Our World in Data.

The farther food is transported, the more it contributes to global warming. To find out the carbon miles associated with your food check out Foodmiles.com.

Bon Appétit

Whitman contracts with Bon Appétit to operate our campus dining and catering. Bon Appétit strives to source at least 20% of their ingredients from small, owner-operated farms, ranches and artisan producers within 150 miles of their kitchens. In addition to responsible food sourcing Bon Appétit was named to the USDA, EPA list of U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.

Organic Garden

It is the mission of the Organic Garden to create a garden of abundant nourishment. We create nourishment for the community, the mind, the body, the spirit and the future. The philosophy of the Organic Garden is to foster an environment filled with experimentation, composting and the recycling of waste, no chemical pesticides or fertilizers (for the health of people and the planet), education (learning from the earth, each other and shared ideas), respect for nature, celebration of life and appreciation for where food comes from.

Whitman's landscaping team, led by supervisor Bob Biles, continuously seeks out means for reducing Whitman's ecological impact while improving its appearance.


We use growth inhibitors on the athletic fields to reduce the need for mowing. These growth inhibitors are estimated to have reduced mowing by one-third, eliminating the need for fifteen gallons of diesel fuel each week.


We aim to minimize fertilizer use and are transitioning to organic fertilizers in select locations. Organic fertilizers will be utilized in landscaping surrounding Penrose Library, Reid Campus Center and Baker Alumni Center.


We are currently using a newly redone sprinkler system to efficiently water our grounds. By refitting sprinkler nozzles, a 20% water reduction is expected.


Some environmentally conscious features can be found around campus. On the northwest corner of East Isaacs and Penrose is the xeriscape water-wise garden. Whitman's edible landscaping garden is located east of Maxey, entering the amphitheater. Additionally the campus organic garden can be found adjacent to the Physical Plant Services building.

The Office of Sustainability monitors the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and ice melt in collaboration with the grounds team. The grounds team works closely with the office and the campus Tree and Landscape Committee. Through this collaboration we regularly evaluate the environmental impact of our landscape management. The college is always working to mitigate harmful practices that can impact the environment and our community, while striving to maintain the beauty of our grounds.

Contrary to popular belief the college does not artificially heat Lakum Duckum or college creek. While the creek and pond are artificially channelized, they are naturally fed by groundwater. The creek and pond do not freeze during the winter months due to the stable temperature of the ground water sources and constant flow.


Every year since 2018, Whitman College has been designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Whitman meets the five core standards for effective campus forest management which include: a tree advisory committee, campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, Arbor Day observance and a student service-learning project.

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