Sustainable Sterling


Sustainability at Sterling goes well beyond conventional practices—the reality of living and learning on our rural Vermont campus cultivates a deep sense of community based on an intimate relationship with the natural world, making “sustainability” both a way of life and a path of study.

The campus community has a shared vision for appropriately scaled and regionally suitable sustainable living practices—what we like to call “grassroots sustainability.”

Sustainability in Practice

STARS Gold Rating

STARS_gold copyIn 2015, Sterling College earned a STARS Gold Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This is Sterling College’s first time participating in STARS. The College’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

We were also named a Top Performer in the 2015 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving the number one ranking in Dining & Food, tying for first place in both Grounds and Coordination & Planning, tied for third place in Investment, and ranked fifth for Curriculum. 


Our core curriculum includes a full spectrum of courses related to sustainability, and the Work program exposes all students to jobs that directly support sustainability initiatives on campus and throughout the community.




  • Sterling College is #1 in the nation for serving “real food”—food that is local, sustainable, humane, and fair-trade.
  • Sterling does not outsource its food services. Instead, the kitchen works with the Farm and Garden crews to make best use of our immediate food resources and prepare delicious and nutritious meals.
  • 20 percent of the food served on campus is raised and harvested by students in our own gardens, fields, farm, forests, and orchards—we call this Farm-to-Table.
  • Our kitchen is also a longtime member of the Vermont Fresh Network—connecting with local farms to put fresh food on the table.



  • Sterling uses a mixed power model of animal and machine on the farm and in the fields.
  • Most of our field, garden, farm, and forest work is done with draft horses.
  • Our own sawmill produces lumber from our managed woodlot, which is used in many campus projects.



  • Our campus hasn’t had vending machines for over a decade, and doesn’t use food trays or disposable dishes.
  • Nontoxic, biodegradable cleaning products are stocked throughout campus.
  • Mixed source recycling is a priority throughout campus.
  • We compost all food (pre and post-consumer) and barn wastes.



  • The Green Bike Program provides the Sterling College community with a fleet of functional and safe bicycles for use around campus.
  • The Ride Share Program helps community members carpool.


Green Building/Buying

  • We use 100 percent post-consumer recycled, chlorine free paper for all copiers and printers.
  • Sterling College publications are printed on recycled paper and use soy ink.
  • We purchase furniture through local manufacturers and craftsmen.
  • Instead of constructing new buildings, we renovate existing structures whenever possible. Recent renovations include the use of natural light, solar hot water heaters, and radiant floor heating.


Green Spaces


Learn More

If your values lead you to commit to becoming an environmental steward and you want the rigor and challenge of working with both your hands and your mind, Sterling College could be the right place for you. We encourage you to schedule a visit to campus or sign up for more information.