Toward A Climate Neutral Campus
What is a "climate neutral" campus? It is one where all greenhouse gas emissions associated with campus energy use, transportation, and waste are either avoided or offset. For example, the solar panels on top of the Eccles Health & Wellness Center and Meldrum Science provide a small amount of emissions-free electricity to those buildings. Additionally, 9-10% of the total electricity the college uses comes from off-campus renewable sources through the Rocky Mountain Blue Sky program. On a climate neutral campus, all energy will come from renewable, emissions-free sources on or off site.
In April 2007, Westminster President Michael Bassis became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. Since that time, the Campus Sustainability Task Force, made up of students, faculty, and staff, has worked to measure the college's greenhouse gas footprint and identify ways to eliminate or offset those emissions. In July 2010, President Bassis adopted the task force's Climate Action Plan, setting goals of 10-15% reduction in campus emissions by 2015 and climate neutrality by 2030.
In 2008, Westminster completed the first inventory of greenhouse gases associated with college operations. This inventory established a baseline, and subsequent inventories are conducted each year. In 2009, Westminster was responsible for 9,363 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCDE), a 6% decrease from 2008. In 2010, net emissions increased to 11,626 MTCDE or 5% above the baseline. The increase is primarily due to campus growth and the addition of the new Meldrum Science Center.
What can you do to help cut emissions?
Two simple steps that make the biggest difference.
TURN IT OFF. Nearly a third of Westminster's emissions come from electricity use. While upgrading equipment is a critical part of reaching climate neutrality, simple actions like turning off lights and computers are equally important. Each time you flip the switch on a light, laptop, or TV, you are keeping coal fired power emissions out of the air. Think these small actions don't add up? A month long study of campus computers in 2007 revealed that the college could save over $20,000 a year if computers weren't left on when people were not using them.
LEAVE THE CAR AT HOME. A big chunk of Westminster's carbon footprint comes from transportation. Over 3/4 of us get to campus alone in a car each day. Coming to campus by bus, bike, foot, or carpool not only cuts greenhouse gas emissions, it also helps keep the air in the valley clean.
Doing Reaserch on Campus Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
Click here for raw greenhouse gas data