Center for Sustainability Studies

Sustainability simply means meeting our current needs without hurting the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.

Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.

Center for Sustainability Studies Mission

The Center for Sustainability Studies or CSS was created to inspire both the academic and experiential explorations of sustainable development and sustainability—the challenge of meeting needs of the present (such as health, energy, food, shelter, and transportation) while ensuring a viable world for future generations. Under the direction of Russ McClain, Instructor of Environmental Science, CSS has become an active voice in promoting sustainability both on and off-campus.

The CSS promotes green initiatives by sponsoring events, supporting local recycling efforts and providing opportunities for students to become active in sustainability research. D&E students, whether majoring in Sustainability Studies or not, are also putting their commitment to work by being involved with hands-on sustainability projects. The CSS has been successful in securing grants for recycling efforts, student internships and research -- most recently from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the WV Department of Agriculture and the WV Department of Environment.  

Highlights of CSS projects include:

  • Shaving $1,300 off of the College’s annual energy bill by trading out hundreds of incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents in the Eshleman Science Center and Halliehurst
  • Securing donations and Student Assembly funding totaling almost $20,000 to purchase equipment for an expanded camps-wide recycling program, which has already eliminated one ding-hall trash pickup per week
  • Raising $2,5000 to pay for solar-powered security lighting in the campus gazebo
  • Collaborating with off-campus organizations to establish community gardens in underserved Elkins neighborhoods.
  • Working with YouthBuild students in the construction of planning beds, fencing, storage building and picnic tables for the community gardens
  • Assisting with the development of an energy-efficient low-income housing unit in Elkins that is one of the first buildings in West Virginia to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council’s “LEED for Homes” certification.

How can I be more sustainable?

There are many options to improve our lives, our family's lives, our community and our earth with what we have around us:

  • Choose products from locally-owned business—help to employ your neighbors, keep profits locally, keep long-distance transportation of products and services to a minimum
  • Choose locally grown foods—favor with flavor—favor local businesses and better food flavor
  • Choose organic foods—better for the environment, better for your health
  • Choose renewable products—renewable products are at your fingertips everyday whether you collect for recycling or create a compost pile
  • Choose green building products—checking for EPA star ratings when replacing appliances, sealing your windows, insulating your attic, etc. help your wallet as well as our environment
  • Support sustainable public policy—support those businesses and public officials that support your community social, economic and environment health and sustainability
  • Educate yourself and others on what is means to have a sustainable environment

-Excerpt from Sustainable Living for West Virginia