Gettysburg College’s campus itself acts as a setting for sustainability and green-inspired solutions. One of the primary greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, which is released from the burning of fossil fuels and contributes to global climate change. To help remove carbon from the atmosphere, Gettysburg College is constantly increasing the campus tree population. Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and store – or sequester – carbon as biomass in their trunks, branches, foliage, and roots.
The campus tree population has grown significantly since 2001, when student research revealed that the approximately 1,200 campus trees sequestered nearly six tons of carbon per year. As of 2012, the Gettysburg College Facilities Services has further increased the on-campus tree population to nearly 2,000 trees; this number equates to nearly one on-campus tree for each student, without including the trees in the wildlife area, beyond Quarry Pond.
To further benefit the Gettysburg College campus, the Grounds Crew utilizes non-chemical solutions to minimize pest damage. Instead, the College utilizes a more natural approach, predators. A purple martin super-colony, dwelling in the attractive birdhouses beside Quarry Pond, is responsible for greatly reducing the campus mosquito population. Additionally, ladybird beetles consume foliage-consuming aphids while praying mantis populations prey on damaging spider mites. The reduction of these pests reduces the need for chemical pesticides. However, when pesticides are necessary, the least toxic sprays available are selected and are used only in extreme conditions.
Another natural solution to problems is utilized by The Majestic Theater, owned and operated by Gettysburg College. The facility is home to a 2,000 square-foot intensive green roof, installed in June 2006. By covering a portion of its roof with vegetation, the design reduces the building's energy use by keeping the roof cool, replaces habitat spaces occupied by the building, and decreases flooding by absorbing rainwater. Furthermore, just like the campus trees, the plants on the green roof remove carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. The plants also reduce the building’s albedo, or its ability to absorb and reradiate heat from the sun; therefore the vegetation lowers air temperatures and reduces smog.