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Sustainability at Salem State

Instilling a culture of sustainability across our programs is a critical part of our commitment to academic excellence, civic engagement, and operational efficiency. As we work to educate the next generation of community leaders, sustainability is one of three guiding principles of our strategic plan.

Climate Commitment

Carbon Neutral Goal: Salem State signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, pledging the university to carbon neutrality by 2050.

We’re Still In: President John Keenan signaled that “We Are Still In” the movement to address climate change. In signing the open letter in October 2017, Salem State joins more than 2,300 businesses, municipalities, and universities that have declared their enduring commitment to pursue ambitious climate goals and to uphold the Paris agreement.

Divestment: The Board of Trustees voted on October 13, 2016, to move the university toward full divestment from companies in the Carbon Underground 200 list.

Academics and Engagement

  • Ten departments offer more than two-dozen sustainability-related courses in addition to foundational courses, field work, directed studies, internships and study abroad opportunities.
  • Related concentrations and minors are offered by the Biology, Geography and Geological Sciences Departments.
  • Vibrant Earth Week programming includes lectures, movies, art installations, and a poster competition highlighting independent student research.
  • Moving Forward, Giving Back: Salem State University’s First Year Day of Service provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to participate in community projects, many of which support open spaces and community gardens.


Sustainable Building

As part of our 2050 commitment to carbon neutrality, we search for opportunities to improve the efficiency of our built environment.

  • Five buildings have achieved LEED-certification (including the newly renovated theater which is on track to receive certification shortly).
  • Two solar photovoltaic arrays have produced over one million kWh of electricity and avoided the production of over 700 tons of greenhouse gases.
  • A geothermal system reduces heating and cooling needs at the library.
  • A cogenerator at the O’Keefe Center heats water for the swimming pool and building needs.
  • Our new parking garage received a Parksmart award for its sustainable features.

A Greener Commute

A majority of our students commute, making transportation a significant source of our carbon emissions. We work with partners to provide students, faculty and staff with greener options.

  • The Viking Shuttle stops at locations throughout campus and at the MBTA station.
  • The Zagster bikeshare program has a new hub on Central Campus, one of several in the City of Salem. Students, faculty and staff receive free membership and bike free for the first two hours or each ride.
  • 390 bike rack spots and a bike storage room support those with their own bikes.
  • There are seven electric vehicle charging stations on campus and preferential parking for rideshares and efficient or alternative fuel vehicles.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • We compost food waste at our two dining halls and three additional locations on campus. Our efforts were honored with an EPA Food Recovery Challenge Award in 2015 and a Certificate of Achievement in 2016.
  • Salem State moved to single-stream recycling in 2017. We now recycle metal, plastic and glass as well as paper and cardboard.
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