Taking the Steps

Molly Waite

Molly Waite

Molly Waite

The plan, which has received strong support from the sustainability community, was orchestrated to keep with the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, an agreement coordinated by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and signed by GVSU President Thomas J. Haas in March 2009.

Bart Bartels, project manager of the SCDI and coordinator of the Climate Action Committee, said part of the Climate Commitment is to send updated versions of the Climate Action Plan to the AASHE every other year. This year, SCDI updated the greenhouse gas report.

“Last year, the Climate Action Committee produced the university’s first Climate Action Plan, which contained our greenhouse gas inventory,” Bartels said. “The committee collected data on emissions in the 2006 fiscal year for a baseline and compared that to the 2009 fiscal year data.”

The report includes an emissions inventory that covers three scopes. The first scope covers the amount of energy that is produced, the second covers the amount of energy purchased and the third covers all other forms of emissions. The Climate Action Plan committee is pleased to announce that the emissions in both the first and second scope have fallen by 5 percent, Bartels said. When the data is broken down, this shows that emissions have fallen by 17 percent per student and 20 percent on a square-footage basis.

“The benefit of the plan is the creation of a baseline that improvement can be measured against,” Bartels said. “We now know that even though 2,285 students and almost 800,000 square feet have been added since the base year of 2006, the university’s carbon footprint has decreased. That is incredible. Measuring the impact brings accountability and transparency to the challenge ahead. It also confirms that we can reduce our environmental impact, even in times of rapid growth.”

Tim Thimmesch, assistant vice president for GVSU Facilities Services and member of the Climate Action Committee, is also pleased with the greenhouse gas report.

“This is further evidence of the university’s continuing commitment to sustainability,” said Tim Thimmesch, assistant vice president for GVSU Facilities Services and a member of the Climate Action Committee. “Our efforts to improve energy conservation through new lighting technology, construction efforts and climate control contributes to lower consumption and a reduced carbon footprint. There is also an ongoing evaluation of new products and processes to reduce energy consumption so that we can make further headway on future carbon emissions.”

The Climate Action Committee will be working to update the plan again before the next AASHE deadline in January of 2012, said Bartels. Next year’s updates will reassess the plan as a whole and will also re-evaluate projections for when GVSU will achieve complete carbon neutrality.

To see GVSU’s Climate Action Plan, visit www.acupcc.aashe.org/cap/126/.

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