Environmental Sustainability

Message from the President 

Dr. Matt GotschallWelcome to Ҵý where our mission is to maximize student and community success. Not only locally, but at the state, regional national and international levels, we are committed to make a positive difference in the world. We highly value education of ourselves and others on sustainability topics and initiatives, including demonstration projects throughout central Nebraska. These projects include a 1.7-megawatt wind turbine at our Hastings Campus; high energy efficiency/renewable standards incorporated into our new Kearney Center; Grand Island Bee Campus USA designation; and pollinator gardens installed at our campuses in Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings. We have enhanced cooperative learning activities between the Agriculture, Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts programs, while creating e-Badges in a multitude of disciplines.

At Ҵý we define environmental sustainability as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (1987 Brundtland report).  This is especially important for central Nebraska regions so dependent upon clean water, fresh air and productive soils to grow the food needed to help feed the world. We have come a long way since first initiating more sustainable practices, but know we have farther to go in order to reach climate-neutral impacts by 2034.

3C InitiativePlease take time to review this site further to see how we are striving to be good stewards of our environment and how you can be a part of supporting future generations through your actions today.

Matt Gotschall, PhD
Ҵý President


Signatory of

Climate Leadership     SEED Initiative

Member Of

aashe member     U.S. Green Building Council     Nebraska Recycling Council

Environmental Sustainability Action Plan

Environmental Sustainability Action Plan (ESAP)

Ҵý’s Environmental Sustainability Action Plan (ESAP) spells out the commitment, goals and actions Ҵý is taking to be a great steward of our environment – for our students, community and the planet.

Energy Conservation

Sustainability Dashboard

The sustainability dashboard shows the consumption of electricity and natural gas for all of Ҵý and for individual campuses and centers on an annual basis.

Computer management

To reduce energy demand from computing devices at Ҵý, screens go into energy-saving mode after 10 minutes, sleep after 30 minutes and into hibernation after two hours of inactivity.

Temperature set-back

Ҵý utilizes a temperature set-back in buildings during unoccupied times such as nights and weekends. This raises the temperature in the summer and lowers the temperature in the winter so that less energy is used to heat and cool unoccupied buildings.

Renewable Energy

Hastings wind turbine

A partnership between Ҵý, Bluestem Energy and the City of Hastings led to completion of a 1.7-megawatt wind turbine in December 2016 on the Hastings Campus. When operating, this turbine provides most of the electricity needed for the campus.

Hastings solar panels

The Hastings Campus has a 17 kilowatt ground-mounted tracking solar system south of the Merrick Building.


Ҵý has geothermal systems on the Grand Island and Hastings campuses as well as at the Kearney Center. Geothermal systems use the ground as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer, thus reducing energy needs to heat and cool buildings.

Kearney Community Solar Array

In May 2018, Ҵý purchased 350 shares totaling 52.5 MWh/month from the Kearney SunWise community solar program. This is the largest community solar array project in Nebraska at Tech One Crossing located on 53 acres at 56th Street and Antelope Avenue in the Northeast side of Kearney.

These shares are enough to cover 100% of the projected annual electricity use at Ҵý's Kearney center. By purchasing these shares, Ҵý locks in a utility rate with this agreement with a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) between NPPD and the solar developer SoCore Energy.

Ҵý's Kearney Center received the first GreenPower certificate associated with the Kearney Community Solar Project and retains the environmental attributes associated with the purchased carbon free energy shares.   

Total solar energy production for the solar array can be viewed .

Zero Waste

Single-stream recycling

Ҵý has made recycling easier than ever by adopting single-stream recycling on the Grand Island and Hastings campuses as well as the Kearney Center, Ord Learning Center and College Park. Single-stream recycling means that all recyclable materials can be mixed together in Ҵý’s blue recycling bins. When in doubt, you can reference the recycling poster located on the front of blue recycle bins or this website for what can be recycled at your location.

The Columbus Campus currently only recycles paper products.

Plastic bag recycling

In partnership with Trex, Ҵý has added a plastic film recycling bin to the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses as well as the Kearney Center. The plastic film that is collected is reused to produce Trex eco-friendly outdoor decking. Items that can be recycled in these bins are grocery bags, bread bags, newspaper sleeves, food storage bags, produce bags, ice bags, cereal liners and more. For a complete list, please see the poster on the front of the bin. Ҵý has recycled over 500 lbs. of plastic film and received a bench made of recycled plastic bags from Trex. The bench is located in the Columbus Campus pollinator garden.


Bike share

The bike share consists of 10 bikes owned by the college that any Ҵý student or employee can check out at Ҵý-Columbus or Ҵý-Grand Island for free. The bikes will be available for checkout any day in the spring, summer and fall. See our website for how to sign up.

Bike fixit station

In partnership with the Central District Health Department, Ҵý has added a do-it-yourself bike fixit station to the Grand Island trail between Stuhr Museum and Highway 281, halfway between Hall County Park and Ҵý-Grand Island. The fixit station includes all the tools necessary to perform basic bike repairs and maintenance, from changing a flat to adjusting brakes and derailleurs. There is also an air pump station with an air pressure gauge.

Gasoline-electric hybrid fleet vehicles

Ҵý has 12 gasoline-electric hybrid fleet vehicles across all three campuses and the Kearney center. These hybrid vehicles are more fuel-efficient than traditional gasoline vehicles.

Food Services

Hospitality Management/Restaurant Management (HMRM)

The HMRM program on the Hastings Campus runs its own dining service in the Platte Building. They have a vegetable and herb garden that is used when creating dishes, and two compost bins to turn food waste into compost that can be used in the vegetable garden. They also incorporate sustainability practices into their courses and plan an annual sustainability event.

Water bottle fill-up stations

Each campus has water bottle fill-up stations installed with the drinking fountains. Students and employees can use these to refill their water bottles with filtered and chilled water instead of using disposable bottles of water.

Ҵý contracts with Chartwells for dining services on all three campuses. Chartwells is committed to sustainable food practices through sourcing food locally and reducing food waste.


Columbus Pollinator Garden

Thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, the Columbus Campus added a pollinator garden in August 2017. It is located south of the Facilities Management Office near the orchard trees. The garden is approximately 7,200 square feet and has about 1,460 flowers, grasses and shrubs.

Grand Island Pollinator Garden

The Grand Island Campus added a pollinator garden in September 2017 and received the same grant as the Columbus Campus. The pollinator garden can be found on the east side of the Center for Industry and Technology building. With more than 25 different types of native plants, phase one of the Grand Island pollinator garden has been completed.

Hastings Pollinator Garden

The Hastings HMRM program received a Ҵý mini-grant for a pollinator garden and planted it in summer 2017. The garden is by the east side of the Dawson Building. It is near the HMRM vegetable garden, which will in turn benefit from the pollinators.

The Grand Island Campus was named a Bee Campus in May 2017. Ҵý became the 29th school in the U.S. to get the certification and is the only school in Nebraska to be named a Bee Campus. Bee Campus USA rewards schools that educate students on the benefits of pollinators.

Education and Engagement

eBadge Opportunities

The eBadge program was started in Fall 2016. An eBadge is an award that learners can share with potential employers on their resume and with their social media networks. Earned eBadges also appear on Ҵý’s co-curricular transcripts. Ҵý students, employees and other persons associated with the college can choose among the options in courses, community education classes and volunteer and service learning experiences offered by the environmental sustainability office and across the college.

There are currently three eBadges offered: Leadership in Environmental Stewardship, Problem Solving, and Symbiosis.

Energy Technology Program

The Energy Technology Program is an Associate of Applied Science offered on the Ҵý Hastings Campus. Students in the Energy Technology program will he highly trained in how to design, maintain and repair the instruments used to harness wind and solar power and battery storage.

Community Education

Many community education courses at Ҵý incorporate environmental sustainability. In the community education brochures, these classes are noted by having one to four leaves next to the name of the class. One leaf means sustainability is incorporated into the class and four leaves means that the class is solely focused on a sustainability topic.

Campus Internships

The intern program for the environmental sustainability office began in 2014 and has continued to grow and develop. Interns take on a variety of duties and apply a variety of skills such as emailing, public speaking, following detailed directions, and working independently and as a team. Learn about our past and current interns here.

Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series

The Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series (SLPS) is a monthly live broadcast of highly qualified and credible speakers who present on regional topics of sustainability and global and local environmental issues. The SLPS is currently in its seventh year at the college with partnerships across the state.

Students 4 Sustainability

The Students 4 Sustainability (S4S) is a student organization that is open to all current Ҵý students with an interest in sustainability or the environment. S4S empowers students to make sustainable changes in their lives through campus projects, local community efforts, and peer education.

Earth Month

Each spring around Earth Day on April 22, Ҵý hosts Earth Month events at each campus location to provide education on sustainability and the importance of the environment. Events include student project expos, presentations and tours. Be on the lookout for more information on this year’s upcoming Earth Month events.

America Recycles Day

Ҵý hosts America Recycles Day each year on Nov. 15 on the Columbus Campus. America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Adopt-a-Highway in Grand Island
  • State Fair
  • Recycling Audits
  • Community Walks
  • Summer Camps
  • Community Gardens
Additional Resources

Get Involved!

Environmental Sustainability Student Interns
Students 4 Sustainability
Bike Share

Contact Us

Benjamin Newton
Environmental Sustainability Director

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