What We Do

Sustainability has four dimensions: environmental, social, cultural, and economic. The actions we take at MIIS are aimed at bringing those dimensions into balance.

The MIIS Sustainability Council

The Sustainability Council was formed in the Spring of 2008 as an interdisciplinary organization which is the hub for all campus sustainability initiatives. Council members come from all departments and areas of study at the Institute. 


Current Initiatives

Carbon Neutrality

The Monterey Institute of International Studies will be a carbon neutral campus in 2016. A formal policy outlining this commitment has been officially approved, and the steps to make that happen are well underway.

The Carbon Neutrality Initiative consists of the following components:

  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Audits: For several years, MIIS students have collaborated with faculty experts to establish an energy usage and emissions baseline for the campus. Using guidelines published by the World Resources Institute and the EPA, these audits provide the school with emissions inventories that are used to track the progress of our efforts over time. Our Goals & Results page contains all the latest GHG information for the Institute.
  • Energy & Lighting Overhaul Program: We make every effort to reduce our energy consumption and minimize our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Institute has partnered with the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) Energy Watch program to complete a campus-wide analysis and retrofit of our electrical and lighting systems. The retrofits included new higher efficiency ballasts, CFL lights, motion sensors, and timers. This is part of a continuous effort to improve our energy efficiency and reduce overall energy consumption. This program is expected to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and take thousands of tonnes of Carbon Dioxide out of the air over the next 20 years. These funds can be used to offset our remaining emissions.
  • Trash: The Monterey Institute recently created new signage for all campus trash and recycling bins that includes the most recent information on materials that may be recycled in Monterey.

     But we need your help! Join the following efforts to           reduce the waste we send to the landfill:

  • Tracking: See the Goals & Results page for our future waste minimization goals, and to track our progress in reaching them.
  • Recycling: Maximum recycling is MIIS waste policy. Blue bins are conveniently situated throughout campus and in every classroom, with signage explaining the recyclable items at MIIS.  The following items should always be recycled:
    • All plastics with recycling symbols
    • All paper and cardboard
    • Wax cartons
    • Glass
    • Aluminum cans and foil
    • Coffee cup lids and sleeves
  • Battery Recycling: White containers in which you can deposit expired batteries are in several select locations across campus such as Holland Center, William Tell Coleman Library, and the Kade Center, among others. Since 2008, we have collected over 1,400 pounds of batteries for recycling.  See the Battery Recycling Locations map Battery Recycling Locations map.
  • Organic Waste:  Plastic bins that hold compostable waste are located in the community organic garden. Their contents are transferred to an industrial strength composter, where these organic materials break down into elements that are mixed with dirt to create enriched, fertile soil for the garden. Bring your kitchen scraps to school to help grow the garden and cut down on landfill waste. Composting Instructions Composting Instructions
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps: Blue buckets with white lids have been placed in 5 areas on campus: First Floor of William Tell Coleman Library, Samson Reading Room, the GSIPS front desk and FGSIB main desk, and in Office Services. Just put your used CFLs in these containers and you can be assured that they will be disposed of properly.
  • Freecycling: The Monterey Institute donates any out-dated, but still usable, items to the local community. Hundreds of out-dated audiovisual items are re-used in this fashion.
  • E-Waste

    E-Waste: E-waste is defined as electronic products such as TVs, computers, monitors, fax machines, cell phones, and printers. According to California State law these materials cannot be disposed of as general trash due to the hazardous materials such as mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals that they contain. These can leach into the local groundwater table and are harmful to human health. MIIS recycles hundreds of its electronic products every semester. We are not, however, able to accept this waste from the greater community at present and all e-waste should be delivered directly to The Monterey Regional Waste Management District for proper disposal. To the right the Monterey Institute prepares E-Waste for disposal.



  • MIIS Community Classifieds: To reduce the amount of waste that is created during student transitions, the Monterey Institute maintains a forum for the sale or give away of furniture and other goods. This program greatly facilitates the transfer of goods and reduces our waste.
  • Reusable Coffee Mugs: Bring your own reusable mug to limit the number of disposable coffee cups used sent to the landfill.
  • Filtered Water: Fresh chilled drinking water is available free of charge in the Samson center-bring your reusable water bottle!
  • More information is available on the Waste Disposal page under the Community tab.



Access to clean, potable water is one of the greatest challenges humanity faces in this century. California, in particular, has been feeling the effects of severe and worsening water shortages for decades. Monterey county is a critically drought sensitive area.

For these reasons, the Monterey Institute is committed to consuming water responsibly. We have already launched several programs to reduce our consumption and limit pollution levels in our run-off. The following retrofits have been installed across campus in this effort:

  • “Low Flow” and sensor flush toilets and faucets
  • Sensor-response faucets
  • A filtration system under the Samson Center cleans water  before its released into the Bay
  • A rainwater catchment system on  Morse Building enables the capture and use of this water in the "Our Green Thumb" garden.

M2 Merger

Campus sustainability initiatives are inspired in large part by our recent merger with Middlebury College. In finalizing this formal alliance, MIIS is more committed than ever to setting the standard in higher education sustainability. Middlebury has a long history as a leader in innovative and award-winning sustainable programs. We are inspired and encouraged to have the guidance of their Sustainability Integration Office staff as a resource as we move forward.

Signed Agreements

President's Climate Commitment

Former president Clara Yu signed the President's Climate Commitment in May of 2007 on behalf of The Monterey Institute of International Studies. This commitment includes a statement of acknowledgment that climate change is real and that institutes of higher education have a responsibility to take the lead in finding solutions to these problems. The commitment lays out steps for signatories to work towards carbon neutrality with firm deadlines on accomplishing these goals.

Talloires Declaration

The Monterey Institute of International Studies signed the Talloires Declaration in April of 2002. This is a declaration by university presidents all around the world expressing a commitment to creating a sustainable campus at their respective universities. The Talloires Declaration is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by over 600 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries.


Please e-mail bob.cole@miis.edu with any questions, concerns, or for more information on sustainability issues at MIIS.