CSU evaluates PCC

Feb 172008
Authors: Cece Wildeman

While universities around the nation have signed pacts agreeing to cut down on the amount of greenhouse gases their campuses produce, CSU has restrained from such an agreement.

Instead, university officials say the university has been working towards cutting such emissions on their own terms.

The President’s Climate Commitment, a pact signed by 492 university presidents across the nation is used to reduce and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from universities. The pact also requires universities to include climate change-oriented curriculum to core classes.

While the abovementioned are the main goals of the commitment, signatories also work to develop a comprehensive plan to reach climate neutrality — no net greenhouse gas emissions — within two years of signing.

In Colorado, several major colleges and universities have signed the commitment, including University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Denver and Metro State College. CSU, however, has yet to sign on.

University officials say that the University Environment and Sustainability Advisory Committee is currently reviewing the commitment, looking at the logistics of the financial commitment and how the programs would be implemented on campus.

Bill Farland, vice president of research and a co-chair of the committee, said the committee is looking at what would need to be done on the budget and what each of the steps to the commitment means. Their results will be presented to President Larry Penley within the next two months.

It has been challenging to decipher some of the steps, Farland said, such as “reduce emissions from air travel.”

“Many (universities) think it is morally right to sign but it is hard to believe that campuses look at how these things would be implemented and what it means to each university,” he said. “We want to make sure we go over and above what we are already doing.”

CSU has already implemented many of the programs included in the PCC, Farland said, such as waste minimization and the option of wind power for on-campus students.

“We have been more of a leader in this issue than a follower,” he said. “We implemented plans years before this commitment.”

The pact took shape in October of 2006, 12 university presidents became founding members of the PCC, and by March of 2007, 152 presidents had signed.

“Many schools had been active before signing the commitment,” said Lee Bodner, Executive Director of EcoAmerica and an organizer of the Presidents Climate Commitment.

“(The commitment) just shows what they are doing and that they have had success,” Bodner said.

Many presidents signed the PCC because their students wanted them to, and they are starting to see that collective action is making a statement, he said.

Founders of PCC hope to help universities reduce greenhouse gases in a way that benefits each school, Bodner said. He said that there is a lot that each school can do, including building “greener”, implementing wind, solar and biomass energy, which can save the university money, and working to minimize waste.

CSU has a great success record for the things they have been doing, Farland said.

He said that since 2004 CSU has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15 million pounds. That is the equivalent of planting 2,000 acres of trees and it saved the university about $550,000 he said.

“CSU really is a green university and have done lots of things like this for years,” he said. “The commitment is one way to rally universities but we have been doing a lot and if we find their guidance is a good way to reach climate neutrality then we may continue on that path.”

Senior Reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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