President Lee signs Climate Commitment

President Joseph Lee has joined with other college presidents nationally to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). By signing the document, Dr. Lee commits the college to creating a plan that reduces greenhouse gas emissions on campus and to educational leadership on raising awareness of global warming.

Dr. Joe Lee and Chris Brandes '10

President Joe Lee shakes hands with Christopher Brandes '10, who will serve as the chief eco-rep for the next academic year.

A large student gathering in the spring witnessed the signing, where Lee praised the efforts of campus sustainability coordinator Dr. Jeanne Gulnick. “We have dramatically increased recycling, food composting, use of green cleaning products and our ability to measure electricity use,” Lee said. He also noted the efforts of campus eco-representatives in the residence halls, who educate students about environmental ethics and actions.

The ACUPCC promotes action plans that move toward climate neutrality, whereby no net greenhouse gas emissions are produced. That can be done through minimizing emissions, increasing renewable energy sources, and using carbon offsets or other means to mitigate emissions. Signing the commitment involves developing a comprehensive plan and mechanism to guide it, completing a greenhouse gas inventory, and initiating corrective actions even before the final plan is developed. These actions can include adopting green standards for buildings, encouraging public transportation, purchasing energy from renewable sources, minimizing waste generated on campus, and buying energy efficient products.

An oversight committee on campus has set initial goals that require the college to purchase Energy-Star certified appliances and to minimize waste material. In order to increase recycling, the college will participate in RecycleMania, a friendly cross-collegiate competition and benchmarking tool for college recycling programs. According to sustainability coordinator Gulnick, RecycleMania is a fun way to engage the campus community in recycling and waste reduction through motivating students to “reduce” more than their collegiate rivals!

The top priority for the next nine months is the greenhouse gas inventory, which is due by May of 2010. “Colleges and universities lead society and social change when it comes to environmental responsibility. We can act as a model for society,” Gulnick says.