Sustainability at Madison College

Learn how Madison College is contributing to a sustainable future, how "green leaders" are changing the world with their ideas, and how you can challenge yourself to help the environment and contribute to a brighter and greener future. 

Bird's eye view of Truax campus rooftop solar array


What we are doing
Rooftop solar panels at the Truax campus

Solar Power

Madison College has implemented solar panel arrays at most of their campuses. These solar panels generate millions of kWh of power each year and provide a significant percent of electricity to the college. SolarEdge provides a monitoring website where you can see how much energy is being produced each day, month, year, and even for their entire lifetime. Instructor Ken Walz provides a great virtual tour of the solar array at Truax, which is the largest in Wisconsin.

Building Envelope

This is the exterior shell of a structure (foundation, walls, roof, windows, etc) that separates the interior climate from the outside elements. Currently, the college is working on replacing roofs and insulation to increase the R-value on existing buildings. Installation and repairs are being made on heat recovery systems, and high-performance window replacement is ongoing. The goal is to meet or exceed LEED Silver Standards.


Both artificial light sources as well as daylight sources such as windows and skylights should serve to promote security and safety without increasing energy consumption. To accomplish this, the college will continue to promote the use of energy-efficient lighting as well as manipulating natural light against surfaces. Sensors are used to conserve energy, and rebates were received to replace lighting with LED options from 2006-2016. Where appropriate, we will continue installing larger windows, enhancing reflective surfaces, transitioning to full LED lighting, and installing sensors in classrooms and throughout the campus. 


Improvements include regular replacement and updating of equipment, with a focus on updated controls and greater efficiency. New construction will meet LEED Silver standards. Recommendations for sustainability include continuing to use occupancy sensors to control airflow, installing and integrating Photovoltaic systems, monitoring and expanding the use of integrated outdoor-air preheaters, and automating HVAC controls. Continued monitoring and assessment of these systems will be important to achieving industry best practices to HVAC systems.

Technology Services

Usage of computers, phones, servers, and other tech equipment is currently being analyzed to determine areas for improvements. The college moved the primary data center at Truax to an off-site location. We will continue to make improvements to existing data center and network spaces to reduce heating and cooling costs when possible, including hot/cold air separation and automated controls. Moving services to the cloud will reduce power consumption and cooling demands. We are also monitoring paper and toner consumption and encouraging paperless options. Plans for continued improvement include keeping equipment in good working order, activating sleep settings (automatic low-power mode) on equipment, consolidating stand-alone office equipment to reduce the ratio of devices to 1 device per 10 or more users, using “smart” power strips, cleaning and replacing HVAC filters regularly, exploring options that use less energy when purchasing new equipment, using a higher efficiency power supply, utilizing virtualization to run multiple virtual operating systems on a single physical computer, optimizing air management and delivery practices, and cooling efficiency improvements through hot aisle/cold aisle configuration. Goals include reducing energy consumption by 15% from 2019 levels by 2024.


Getting people to buy into sustainability and energy conservation through simple things like closing doors and turning off lights and computers is a continuous effort. In spring 2019, an Energy Conservation Survey showed that over 90% of employees and students think saving energy is important. However, half of the respondents didn’t feel that the college does enough to inform them of Energy Conservation and Sustainability efforts. Students reported being willing to do more if asked, and 89% of employees said they would be willing to change their habits to conserve energy. These results were consistent across all campuses. The college is developing plans to improve communication and awareness including (but not limited to) establishing a sustainability website, establishing a Renewable Energy Day, and adding a sustainability section to new employee and new student orientation. The newly established Green Team will be responsible for leading engagement efforts across the district.

What others are doing

Do you believe one person can make a difference? Take a look at these green figures around the world who have done just that. 

Famous Environmentalists

Photo of Jane Goodall holding a chimpanzee

Jane Goodall: started her environmental journey in the 1960’s as a chimpanzee researcher. Created the Jane Goodall Institute to raise awareness to environmental preservation and wildlife protection. She also campaigns around the world for an environment conservation and advocates for an active participation of young people in preserving our world. (Source: Jane Goodall)


Photo of Maliaka Vaz

Malaika Vaz: a 24-year-old presenter, filmmaker, director focused on producing films about endangered species, the relationship between humans and wildlife, and illegal animal traffic. She is also the co-founder of Untamed Planet, a production house that focus on inspiring the world to make conservation efforts by telling creative and compelling wildlife stories. (Source: Malaika Vaz)

Green Celebrities

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda: American actress and social and environmental activist. Joined forces with Greenpeace to launch Fire Drill Fridays, a weekly campaign to raise awareness to climate change and demand that the U.S. government complies with the Green New Deal in alternatives to fossil fuel. (Source: Jane Fonda)


Bill Nye

Bill Nye: an engineer, scientist, comedian, author, and inventor focused on fostering a society that uses science and critical thinking to create a greener world. He also works to demystify some misconceptions about climate change and promote evidence-based policies to solve environmental issues. (Source: Bill Nye)

What you can do

People from all walks of life can do things each day to reduce their carbon footprint. Here are 6 ways you can commit to helping the environment, often while saving money. 

1. Say no to fast fashion. The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions. Some of the main sources of carbon emissions along fashion supply chains are things like pumping water to irrigate crops (like cotton), the harvesting machinery, and transport. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing per year. (

Organize a clothing swap with your friends. Bring your used closed and trade with friends instead of shopping new. It’s also a great way to update your wardrobe without spending a penny. Plan your perfect clothes swap party

Join a local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. Most cities have and even neighborhood specific have “Buy Nothing” groups where neighbors offer things from clothing to air conditioners for free. Save money and keep your used items out of the landfill. Remember someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure. Learn more about Buy Nothing groups.

2. Take the bus or carpool to work and school. Just one person switching from a 20-mile commute they normally take alone to public transit can reduce their yearly CO2 emissions by 20 pounds per day. That’s more than 48,000 pounds per year!

Madison College offers FREE bus passes for students and faculty. Get yours at Student Life. Check out our transportation webpage for discounts on E-Bikes and carpool programs. Learn about the benefits of public transit.

3. Reduce your food waste. According to the FDA, food waste in the United States is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply. 

If available, buy “ugly” fruits and vegetables that are often left behind at the grocery store. “Ugly” produce has physical imperfections but are not rotten. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables are safe and nutritious to eat and can sometimes even be sold at discounted prices.

4. Create a compost bin. Composting is good for several reasons: It saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reduce water and runoff. It benefits the environment by recycling organic resources while conserving landfill space. Learn more about the benefits of compostingHere is a link to 15 DIY compost bins you can make today. 

5. Reduce our plastic waste and bring your own cup or bag. This one may feel small but actually helps a lot. We have a huge plastic problem. By the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Starbucks uses more than 8,000 paper cups a minute, that’s four billion cups a year! That equals 1.6 million trees harvested every year. Since these cups are lined with plastic, they are not recyclable. In fact, only 4 US cities have the infrastructure to recycle Starbucks cups. Many companies offer discounts when you bring your own cup or bag, so it’s a money saver too.()

6. Go vegetarian. Eating a plant based diet or reducing your meat intake is a small thing that can make a BIG difference.  A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively, by 2050.  A report from the United Nations Environment Programme says that “animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives.”  The World Health Organization says, “Reducing livestock herds would also reduce emissions of methane, which is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide.” 

Here are some great sites for some tasty and budget friendly recipes

This webpage is a collective effort between Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and the Madison College Green Team.

Phi Theta Kappa 

Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society exclusively for two-year colleges, designed to create the opportunity for the development of leadership and service. This page is a result of the student initiative created by PTK Honors in Action Project in which students have the opportunity to transform academic research into real-world, action-oriented projects. 


Green Team

The Madison College Green Team consists of students, faculty, and staff and is responsible for providing leadership and direction of sustainability practices for all Madison College stakeholders. Along with the Facilities Department, the Green Team is responsible for carrying out the recommendations identified in the college’s Energy Management Plan. The team also initiates new opportunities for district-wide engagement.