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Sustainability at North Central

Solar Panel ArrayNorth Central Michigan College has established a Campus Sustainability Committee to produce measurable progress in making our campus more sustainable. It guides changes at NCMC that reduce the College’s environmental impact, encourage fiscal responsibility, and educate students and the community about best practices for a sustainable future.

Pictured: North Central's solar panel array.

Link to North Central Weather Station Dashboard





Want to get involved?:

Whether you’re interested in sustainability initiatives on campus or in the community, here are some ideas for you to connect:

Have an idea for a project? Complete this form and email it to us. The Campus Sustainability Committee is happy to work with students or community members to help make our campus more sustainable. Contact us:

Get Involved with Our Partners:

Sludge Hammer Tip of the mit Watershed Council Emmet County Recycling


Solar Panel Array
A solar panel array was installed on North Central's campus in 2019 following the successful completion of Solarize Petoskey, the class project for Leadership Little Traverse's Class of 2019.

Their goal was to create a learning opportunity that spanned the fields of sustainability, science and engineering, and they wanted the project to yield measurable results.The plan?An 8 kW, 20-module, ground-mounted solar panel array that would produce approximately 11,000 kWh per year, to be fed back into the City of Petoskey’s electric grid.A mutual agreement with the college ensured that the solar panel array would find its home on campus, behind the Library.

Solar Production DashboardThanks to generous donors, LLT raised $40,000 to fund the project.In addition, Dave Kring Chevrolet Cadillac donated an electric vehicle-charging station, installed adjacent to the solar panel array and free for visitors to campus to use.A ribbon-cutting celebration in September 2019 marked the completion of LLT’s yearlong project.

In March 2020, a tracker was added to the solar panel array to measure its output.


Zero Waste – North Central has made a commitment to hosting “zero waste” events in 2018.  For both the Garden Party on August 12 and the annual Cookout on September 9, the college used all compostable and recyclable products.  Many thanks to the support of the Emmet County Recycling for their support.

With the support of Emmet County Recycling, College Food Services is now sending our kitchen waste from the College food service to be composted. The College is working hard to cut back on our waste that gets picked up and taken to the landfill. We also use between 91-94% of compostable products in food services with take-out containers, flatware, napkins, cups and more!


SludgeHammer Wastewater Treatment - North Central Michigan College recently installed a small-scale waste-water treatment unit in the residence hall on the Petoskey campus.  Working in partnership with SludgeHammer Group, Ltd., and the Little Traverse Bay Protection & Restoration Fund of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, this demonstration unit, which uses biological technology to treat wastewater onsite, will reduce North Central’s impact on Petoskey’s municipal wastewater treatment facility by “pre-cleaning” the sewage discharged from campus.  In fact, it’s believed that tests will demonstrate that the discharge water from the demonstration unit may ultimately be used for numerous non-potable applications at the college. 

In addition, three North Central professors, Dr. Davina Gutierrez, Ben Crockett and Dr. Jeff Lockridge will create water resource awareness and stewardship modules in at least three college science courses, and a portable educational tool for use in K-12 schools.

"This collaboration at North Central will allow our students to see first-hand how locally-developed science and technology can make our Great Lakes region a leader in water quality, sustainability and innovation. It also demonstrates the commitment our College has made to building an environmentally responsible campus that will inspire our area's citizens and protect our unique ecological heritage," states Ben Crockett, professor of Human Biology. 

“The SludgeHammer wastewater treatment unit has the potential to be a game-changer in the industry,” states Dr. David Roland Finley, president of North Central.  “The implementation of this demonstration project at North Central provides tremendous opportunity for students and is a great example of community partnerships in bringing this installation to reality.  Students will benefit by seeing the very latest in cutting-edge technology in this field, and curricula can be developed related to this project that will provide access to in-demand jobs for the 21st century.”

Part of waste-water treatment unitopen part of waste-water treatment unit with people looking down into it


LED Lighting

Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Agency for Energy, North Central has converted all parking lot lighting to LED. The College replaced 52 incandescent lamps that used 400 watts of energy per hour with 52 new LED lamps that use only 120 watts per hour. This has produced a total reduction of energy usage of 14,560 watts per hour based on average electrical usage rate of .10 per KWH. The LED lights provide better outdoor lighting for parking lot safety, and the reduction in energy use from these bulbs generates a yearly savings of $4240 to the College’s operating costs. This figure is based on average usage of 8 hours a day.

Based on the success of this project, North Central Michigan College has adopted the sustainability practice to use LED lighting for all future bulb replacements. At present over 80% of all exterior lighting has been converted to LED. Eventually all lighting on campus will be LED.

LED parking lot light post


Campus Recycling Bins

With a grant from Coca-Cola / Keep America Beautiful and the efforts of North Central Student Hannah Jaskowski, Emmet County Recycling, and NCMC Physical Plant employees we added 15 new recycling bins throughout campus. These bins have divided openings for trash and recycling, which has helped to reduce the amount of landfill material produced by the College and increased the volume of recyclables sent to Emmet County Recycling. The new recycling bins also allow NCMC Physical Plant staff to more easily sort and return containers eligible for deposit. The money from the deposits on these recyclables contributes over $800 annually to the NCMC Foundation Scholarship Fund.

Recycling Bin with a slot for cans and bottles and a slot for paper


Stormwater Runoff

North Central is collaborating with Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council on the “North Central Michigan College Stormwater Wetland Restoration” project. As part of this project, the college installed landscaping plantings that improve infiltration and reduce stormwater runoff on campus.

campus with wetland areaStudents on deck overlooking wetland area


Interested in a career in sustainability?  

North Central Michigan College has an Associate of Arts degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.  Click here for more information or contact Kerri Finlayson at

Sustainability tips and resources:

Recycle or Donate - Instead of throwing out those items you no longer have a use for, recycle it (if it can be recycled) or consider donating it to one of the many resale shops in the area.

Reuse - Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it up at one of our many filtered fill stations around campus.

Repurpose - Instead of throwing out those leftovers, repurpose them into another dish for an easy lunch or dinner option the following day.

For a comprehensive list of ideas, check out Global Stewards Sustainable Living Tips at

You can also visit Sierra Club’s Green Tips: At the Office for ways to incorporate sustainability into your workplace: