Taking a stand to be (carbon) neutral

The University’s award-winning chiller plant is a centralized facility for the east end of campus that reduces maintenance and is much more energy-efficient than the former individual units.When President Mary Ellen Mazey signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2012, it set in motion a formal plan to move the University toward carbon neutrality. This built upon BGSU’s longtime efforts at becoming a more sustainable campus, from individual responsibility for conserving energy to institution-wide projects.

The climate commitment outlined four steps to be taken by signatories: create institutional structures to guide the implementation of a plan; complete an inventory of the campus’s greenhouse gas emissions; develop a comprehensive plan for becoming carbon-neutral; and initiate two or more tangible actions to reduce carbon emissions.

With the collective efforts of students, faculty and staff, with the coordination and leadership of Campus Sustainability and many other departments, offices and areas, much progress has been made.

Last year, BGSU completed its "Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory," which details all the carbon-based emissions it creates annually from every aspect of operation, from purchasing electricity, to commuting/travel, waste production, purchasing, use of natural gas and other activities.

On Jan. 15, 2015, BGSU filed its Climate Action Plan (CAP), which sets forth proposed actions to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, comprising energy, transportation, waste reduction and education/research. The CAP was created with considerable effort by faculty, staff and students over the past year.         

The means to the goal include conservation of electricity and use of natural gas in practical, sustainable and cost-efficient ways to reduce emissions. At the same time, BGSU will investigate the feasibility of using and/or creating renewable energies, especially as those technologies continue to develop and become more widespread.

Implementation teams for portions of the Climate Action Plan are now being created, and members are sought. Anyone with an interest in serving on a team may contact the Office of Campus Sustainability at greenbg@bgsu.edu.

The Campus Sustainability website provides more information on University efforts to reduce the carbon footprint.