Environmental Initiatives

Renewable Energy Certificates

Goucher is now purchasing more than 11 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 100 percent of the college's electricity use.

Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro. Purchases of green power help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Goucher's green power purchase of more than 11 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from nearly 2,000 passenger vehicles per year, or the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of more than 960 average American homes annually.

Goucher has increased its purchase of green power through its participation with the EPA's Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use.

The college is buying this green power in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Clean Currents, a wind power supplier to residential and commercial customers in Maryland, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

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Cleaning Products

In 2008, Goucher’s Facilities Management Services (FMS) switched to using Green Seal-certified cleaning and paper products when available.

Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that uses science-based standards to set environmental standards for products. The organization uses a life-cycle approach to ensure that all significant environmental impacts are considered when developing products, from raw materials extraction through manufacturing to use and disposal. Green Seal’s standard along with other green cleaning standards, have attempted to minimize the impact of cleaning products on indoor air and the associated health risks to building occupants.

Goucher’s Green Seal-certified cleaning products are also portion controlled to reduce excess waste.

Grounds Maintenance Initiatives

Goucher College Grounds department follows the Integrated Pest Management ecologically based approach to pest management recommended by the Maryland Department of Agriculture for maintaining our grass and plant material.

Organic Treatments and Mechanical Services

In 2007, Goucher began using a 50 percent organic fertilizer.

The college also uses a 100 percent certified organic activated humic acid, which is a soil conditioner with 13 enhanced plant beneficial microbes. This advanced microbial product increases natural biological activity and removes pesticide residues from the soil, accelerates root development, and increases natural disease resistance. This product has reduced some of the diseases most prevalent on the athletic fields, specifically fairy ring and dollar spot, and led the college to reduce the use of fungicides on the turf fields. Use of activated humic acid on our newly seeded areas and sod have shown outstanding results in the germination of the seed and recovery of the sod root systems.

Goucher uses mechanical services, core aeration, and slit seeding on its turf because of the environmental benefits of these practices. Core aeration is used on all turf as of 2009. The practice improves the health of the turf plant by increasing its access to air, water, and nutrients. The college also started over-seeding all of its turf in 2009. Over-seeding helps thicken the turf, which reduces weeds and runoff.

The college’s tree and shrub care maintenance program consists of deep root and trunk injections of selected trees and shrubs for fertilization and disease treatment. Goucher has switched from using sprays to Arbotect, which is injected straight into the trunk to eliminate all of the side effects of sprays. Arobtect is more efficient and only has to be used every two-and-half years.

Perennial Program

Goucher has begun researching and planting trees and plants that are grown locally and are native to the region. The college seeks out plants that are drought tolerant and resistant to disease and insects, that do not require pruning or maintenance on a yearly basis, and that are unpalatable to deer.

The college prefers native perennials, which can be moved from pot to ground and reoccur each year.

Department Initiatives

  • The Office of Human Resources now uses a computer-based interview exchange applicant tracking system for job applicants. The electronic system will drastically reduce the amount of paper used in the application process. Applications for open positions at the college will only be accepted online, eliminating the need for printed résumés and cover letters. All evaluations of potential candidates will also be completed online. The department estimates a paper savings of 4,500 postcards a year and three reams of paper a week.
  • The Chemistry Department used a 2009 Innovation Grant to purchase a solvent recycling unit. The unit reduces environmental waste by as much as 90 percent in some cases. The recovered solvent has excellent purity and is immediately put to use in the same labs from which it came. The unit will also lead to a reduction in Goucher’s purchasing and disposal costs.


Throughout campus the college uses paper with a content of 10 percent to 20 percent recycled materials.

All of the paper towel, toilet paper, and tissue products used on campus are 100 percent recycled and EcoLogo certified. EcoLogo is a third-party certified eco-labelling program approved by the Global EcoLabelling Network. EcoLogo standards endeavor to address multiple environmental attributes related to both human health and environmental impacts across the life cycle of a product or service. 


Goucher is a member of the following organizations:

  • The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the United States’ largest private, nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization. The NWF seeks balanced, common-sense solutions to environmental problems that affect both wildlife and people.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that supports the organizational procurement of “green” power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools, and resources.
  • The Maryland Green Registry, a voluntary, self-certification program that offers tips and resources to help organizations set and meet their own sustainability goals.

Stormwater management

In 1997, Goucher College prepared a plan that divided the college into several stormwater management quadrants that each have facilities that act as filtration devices for water quality and for controlling water quantity runoff.

The college has initiated defined areas as forest buffers that also act as water quality structures for the campus.

There are also several discharge controls that capture water runoff from parking lots.

Sewer discharge

Goucher monitors its sewer discharge to Baltimore County to control the pH levels and fats/oils/greases released to the system. The campus has installed grease interceptors on the discharges for the systems that serve kitchens, etc., to control these types of discharge.

Oil tanks

In 1994, Goucher prepared a management plan to begin removing all underground oil storage tanks. The college had 24 tanks--22 of which were removed, and two above-ground tanks that were converted to double-wall tanks when the heating and cooling plants were constructed. The college also has operational procedures in place to prevent spills from the tanks and runoff to the groundwater.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)

In 2000, all 58 of the college's transformers were tested for polychlorinated biphenyls, which are classified as persistent organic pollutants. Three transformers tested positive for PCB. Of those, two have been removed, and one at the college's substation cannot be addressed at this time.


All asbestos has been identified, and as the college renovates or upgrades facilities, the removal is addressed at that time. If the college has areas where material is damaged, it addresses that specific area. All removals are done as prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Future Initiatives

  • Investigate further use of solar lighting
  • Research paints that are low in volatile organic compounds, which diminish air quality and may be detrimental to health
  • Switch to recyclable and environmentally conscious floor coverings
  • Investigate the use of hybrid models when college vehicles must be replaced.