Our Commitment to Sustainability »

In keeping with its vision for a sustainable future, the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica considers its impact on the natural and social environment of Monteverde in every facet of its operations.

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Our Commitment to Sustainability

In keeping with its vision "a sustainable community for a sustainable world", the Monteverde Institute considers its impact on the natural and social environment of Monteverde in every facet of its operations. We continually are reviewing current practices and pursuing options to reduce our carbon footprint and to benefit the local community.


We are currently working to execute the Sustainability Standards of Best Practice developed by the Forum on Education Abroad that all education programs should strive to meet. We also recently completed an external energy audit and were applauded for having an “impressively small” carbon footprint. We also are exploring the economic viability of taking the Institute “off the grid” in the near future. While still in the planning stages of constructing new classrooms and student areas, the Institute commissioned a report on the most efficient and green ways to build them.


In the meantime, the Institute takes many steps to be as economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable as possible.


Environmental Stewardship

  • Water storage tanks collect rainwater for use in toilets
  • Biodegradable cleaning products are used.

  • Reedbeds comprise a grey water treatment system.

  • We keep an ongoing record of all printing and scanning use. All office paper is reused and eventually recycled.

  • Recycling bins are provided all over our campus.

  • All interior lighting and office equipment are shut off when not in use.

  • Benefiting from all available natural light means that we use very few artificial lights in our facilities during the day, and use minimal lighting at night for security purposes.

  • We use no air-conditioning or heating in any facilities, but benefit from open windows, passive solar energy and temperate weather conditions.

  • Any facilities improvement projects are done using as many recycled materials as possible and local craftspeople.

  • Employees and students are encouraged to use alternative and public forms of transportation to get to work.

  • Fleet cars are chosen for their environmental efficiency and their use is tailored to group size. Trips are designed with an eye on reducing travel time and distance.


 Social Responsibility

  • We seek to create programs geared specifically toward local issues and bring guest lecturers to Monteverde to address local concerns.

  • Whenever possible, we provide grants for local students to participate in various courses and provide funding for local sustainability projects.

  • We contract local providers for as many aspects of our programs as possible.

  • Most of the food we serve is locally prepared and sourced. Menus are determined by seasonal offerings.  All food is served on reusable plastic ware and food waste is composted.

  • On trips, we seek out locally owned restaurants and hotels and work with ‘green’ businesses as much as possible.

  • Community learning and service projects are created in conjunction with the community and with a sustainable framework. The Monteverde Institute is helping to implement ‘green audits’ of all of its homestay families. Participating families are encouraged to recycle, source local food, use recycled materials in home improvement, and keep learning about sustainable practices.


Economic Sustainability

As a non-profit and a leader in the local business community, the Monteverde Institute promotes economic and corporate sustainability toward all of its stakeholders.


Evidenced by low employee turn-over, the Institute emphasizes quality of work, flexibility, and offers high pay compared to the local market. It trusts its employees to hold themselves and the institute accountable by using collaborative decision-making in crafting its strategic plans and in administering virtually every aspect of its corporate model. It seeks to have a positive impact, as well, on the local community by providing a variety of services and using local, sustainable providers for its study-abroad courses. It recruits and trains local people to act as coordinators, and it supports and encourages them in continuing their educations. Additionally, the Institute regularly holds free, donation-based, or nominal-fee seminars on topics ranging from maternal health, computer literacy, English as a Second Language, to Peace Studies geared toward local needs.


Moreover, the Monteverde Institute works with the local municipality and the business community by spearheading initiatives like Traveler’s Philanthropy and the Finca La Bella project. Through its Sustainable Futures Program, the Institute uses applied student research to encourage sustainable infrastructure development. It also works with the municipality to encourage sustainable economic diversification and to deepen the economic base in the Monteverde zone.


Through its homestay program, the Institute gives back to its community, as well. Although families are well compensated for participating, they also are able to take advantage of programs and classes specifically geared toward them. In the last couple of years, the community extension program has initiated a sustainability and energy audit in its homestay families, and the families have participated enthusiastically.


Finally, as a result of its mission, the Institute has systematically increased its emphasis on service learning in numerous study-abroad courses. This new focus has led to the development of needs-based research and authentic community-based projects.


The non-profit status of the Institutute ensures that its foci are on producing exemplary academic content, giving back to the community through service learning, promoting original, applied research, and being a leader and model of responsible corporate stewardship in the local business community.