NKU’s carbon emissions analysis

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In April 2007 President Votruba signed the American College ‘ University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The Commitment calls for colleges and universities to take “leadership in their communities” to minimize global warming by making effective policy changes and accomplish educational goals in their respective institutions that promote a cleaner, greener future.

As a result of the Commitment, Vice President of Facilities Management, Larry Blake was given the challenge of developing a task force, the NKU Presidents Climate Commitment Task Force, and overseeing the Commitment’s implementation and results. Consisting of faculty, staff and students the Climate Task Force is responsible for producing a long-term “Climate Action Plan” for NKU that will establish policy and promote educational opportunities to become a climate neutral campus or at least greatly reduce our carbon emissions for the future.

The Commitment requires that a complete inventory be conducted and report written of total greenhouse gas emissions from the campus produced by electricity, heating, commuting and air travel. In the fall 2007 semester, Task Force member and Geology professor John Metz created a class for students to work together in obtaining the data and make analysis of NKU’s greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Cool Planets calculator. A total of five students joined the Task Force to gather the data: Thomas Dibello, Rodna Bailey-Jackson, Chris Kaeff, Jennifer Lantz and Diana Perez. Each student was assigned a section of data to collect from a particular administrator with access to such information. The students worked throughout the spring 2008 semester collecting data from various sources. Jennifer Lantz and Chris Kaeff worked on through the summer to enter the data into the calculator and write the report which was submitted to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the sustainability partner with the ACUPCC. NKU’s carbon emission results as well as the full report can be found on the ACUPCC website: http://www.aashe.org/pcc/reports/ghg-report.php?id=416.

With inventory results in hand, the Task Force must now create a sustainability plan that will take the growing campus into the future with reduced emissions. While working on the plan, NKU has adopted three tangible actions, also a requirement of the Commitment. One action, of which is still being discussed in committee is adopting an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring Energy Star products. The second action is to encourage and provide access to public transportation, as did NKU in July 2007 when partnering with TANK to provide free rides for all NKU students, faculty and staff. The third action already implemented at NKU is the participation of the campus in RecycleMania’s Waste Minimization competition. NKU came in 10th in the nation with a little over 4 pounds per person per week. NKU must also reduce waste in three other areas. We have expanded our Recycling Program to include plastic, glass and aluminum, and NKU has been recycling carpet for several years and offering surplus computers and furniture at little or no cost to other institutions, faculty, staff and students. There has also been the promotion of using reusable coffee mugs at discounted prices as started by ECOS and continued by the campus dining operations.

With the Energy Star Purchasing Policy in its final stages before implementation, the Climate Task Force members in critical thinking mode and key task members pursuing curriculum and expanding educational opportunities; the future of NKU’s campus climate neutrality is promising.

However, for NKU to reach campus climate neutrality it will take the dedication and responsibility of each and every one of us that lives, travels to and fro, works, plays and otherwise corresponds with the campus in any manner. What does that mean exactly you might ask? This means that it is up to you, yes YOU, to make a conscious decision to use TANK whenever and wherever possible; to recycle and more importantly reuse whenever and wherever possible; turn OFF the computers, monitors and lights whenever and wherever possible; use the stairs every time you go down; and remember to implement Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in your daily living habits.

There are also many activities or groups that you can share in to improve your environment. The most current event you can help make a difference in and have some dirty fun with is the tree-planting celebration this Thursday, October 16 at 10 a.m., (not 11 a.m. as previously posted) in the area between the Steely Library Welcome Center and the new Welcome Center. Campus Grounds in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota will be planting the first of 50 large trees with your help. Contact Facilities Management at X-1927 for more information. This is a truly special occasion as NKU is only the second in the country to achieve the “Tree Campus USA” designation. Please do your best to stop by and shovel some new life into your campus.

Jennifer Lantz can be reached at jennifer.lantz@insightbb.com.