Green Commitments

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Pursuit of sustainability is integral to the Garrison Institute’s mission. We are committed to understanding, measuring and minimizing the environmental impact of our own operations. Our 77,000 square foot facility built in the 1920s was not originally designed for energy efficiency, but we have retrofitted it with renewable energy systems and other upgrades, and work together with our guests and operations staff to implement sustainable best practices and sourcing. Our practices and facilities continually improve over time, so our resource use profile, carbon footprint and overall environmental impacts are continually improving, too. The process is ongoing. Below is an overview of the current state of this work in progress.

Energy Efficiency

  • We have a geothermal system for our Meditation Hall and Auditorium that uses ground water for cooling and heating.
  • We use compact fluorescent lightbulbs in at least 75% of fixtures facility-wide.
  • We have installed motion sensor lighting controls in low traffic areas, and we turn off hall lights at night.
  • We use EnergyStar rated appliances.
  • We insulate water heaters, storage tanks, and hot water pipes.
  • We have upgraded our windows for better energy efficiency.
  • We clean light fixtures and diffusers regularly for optimal light output.
  • We use natural ventilation instead of mechanical air conditioning in the majority of the facility.
  • We have installed ceiling fans in large spaces to efficiently improve air flow.
  • We have programmable thermostats set at energy efficient settings in both hot and cold weather.
  • As we are very close to the Metro-North Hudson Line’s Garrison train station, we operate a shuttle van to the station and we encourage our visitors to travel to us by train.

Water Efficiency

  • We operate our own water treatment and sewage system using wells on our property and employing organic filtering and treatment processes.
  • We use our own reusable five gallon water bottles and our own water rather than offering commercial bottled water to guests.
  • We have replaced all pre-1992 toilets with low water use models.

Sustainable Food

  • Our chef prepares healthy, delicious food that is mostly vegetarian, locally grown and organic. As much as possible we buy our food fresh from local farmers, growers and farm markets. In this way we ensure freshness and quality, while supporting sustainable local agriculture in the Hudson Valley.
  • We have a small kitchen garden which supplies some of our herbs and vegetables. We also have a cutting garden to provide some of our flowers.
  • We purchase organic, shade grown, sustainable certified coffee.

Eco-Conscious Purchasing

  • In addition to food, we purchase the majority of our supplies of all kinds from local and ecologically aware sources, including office supplies, cleaning supplies and equipment and food.
  • All of our office paper, letterhead and envelopes are at least 30% post-consumer recycled content.
  • Our newsletters are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled content, and much of our marketing materials as well. We use Forest Stewardship Council certified paper and printers whenever possible
  • All of our paper towels and toilet paper are at least 30% post-consumer recycled content.
  • We purchase all our supplies in bulk to reduce shipping mileage.
  • We use bamboo grown on the premises for fences.

Eliminating Toxic Chemicals and Pollution

  • We purchase biodegradable cleaning products for daily use.
  • We use low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint products purchased from a local supplier.
  • We supply organic, fragrance-free personal care products for guests.
  • We use rechargeable batteries rather than disposable alkaline.
  • We do not use chemical pesticides in our gardens. We pick weeds by hand rather than use herbicides (retreat guests sometimes help as part of their work practice).

Solid Waste Management

  • We recycle all paper and cardboard products, cans, glass, and plastic.
  • We recycle food scraps for use as animal feed.
  • We do not use any non-recyclable plastic food containers.
  • We re-use packaging material (bubble wrap, “peanuts”, cardboard, etc).
  • We re-use clean trash can liners.
  • We rely on online communications as much as possible to reduce paper use.
  • Our copiers print front and back to save paper.
  • We update our mailing list regularly to avoid sending to wrong or duplicate addresses.