Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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 group 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 Middlebury Institute of International Studies aims to be a carbon neutral campus in 2016. A formal policy outlining this commitment has been approved, and the steps to achieve our goal are 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 - including past performance, goals, and progress - for the Institute.
  • Energy & Lighting Overhaul Program: We make every effort to reduce our energy consumption and minimize our 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 & Recycling: The Institute has purchased new, standardized trash and recycling bins for the campus. Look out for the new bins this semester! We already have bins are located throughout campus and in every classroom, with signage explaining what can be recycled. 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
    • Also, a “Techno Trash” receptacle is available in Media Services, where only CDs, DVDs, cables, and other small electronics can be recycled!
  • Battery and CFL Recycling: Brown containers in which you can deposit expired batteries are in several select locations across campus. Check out the Battery & CFL Recycling Locations map. Brown Battery BinSince 2008, we have collected 1,748 pounds of batteries for recycling. Blue buckets for recycling Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are located in five areas across campus: the first floor of the William Tell Coleman Library, the Samson Reading Room, the GSIPM front desk, the McGowan lobby, and in Office Services.

  • Composting:Orange buckets that hold compostable waste are located in the Our Green Thumb 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 soil for the garden. Bring your kitchen scraps to school to help grow the garden and cut down on landfill waste using our Composting Instructions
  • Freecycling: The Institute minimizes landfill disposal of outdated, but still usable items. Annual 'freecycle' events are scheduled near the beginning of the academic year to offer such items for free to the MIIS community. Any unclaimed items are then offered to the Monterey community, and finally, they are donated to the Last Chance Mercantile at the Monterey Regional Waste Management District.
  • E-Waste

    E-Waste: E-waste is defined as electronic products such as TVs, computers, cell phones, and printers. A “Techo Trash” receptacle is available in Media Services, where only CDs, DVDs, cables, and other small electronics can be recycled! 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. MIIS recycles hundreds of its electronic products every semester. We are not, however, able to accept this waste from the greater community and all e-waste should be delivered directly to The Monterey Regional Waste Management District for proper disposal. To the right the Institute prepares E-Waste for disposal.

  • Reusable Coffee Mugs: Bring your own reusable mug to limit the number of disposable coffee cups used sent to the landfill.


Aquaponics System

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 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 it is released into the bay
  • A rainwater catchment system on the Morse Building enables the capture and use of rainwater in the Our Green Thumb garden
  • Cold, filtered drinking water is available for free in the Samson Center and the McCone lobby. New units are on the way to McGowan and the renovated Holland Center. Bring your reusable water bottle!

Signed Agreements

President's Climate Commitment

Former president Clara Yu signed the President's Climate Commitment in May of 2007 on behalf of The Middlebury 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 Middlebury 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 contact sustainablecampus@miis.edu with any questions, concerns, or for more information on sustainability issues at MIIS.