SALISBURY, MD---From small gestures like encouraging employees to turn off computers overnight to larger actions such as providing a portion of the campus’ power via solar energy, Salisbury University is moving toward climate neutrality.
In a plan released as part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, signed in 2007 by SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, the University unveiled the steps it plans to take to reach a goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Many of the efforts build on SU’s ongoing sustainability commitment, including its 2006 partnership with Pepco Energy Services, Inc. on campus-wide energy conservation measures expected to total more than $5.3 million in savings by 2021—a plan lauded by the Maryland Board of Public Works. Through the partnership, PEPCO replaced many of SU’s lighting, plumbing and HVAC fixtures with more energy-efficient models.
According to a study conducted by students in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, in connection with the Small Business Development Center, more than half of SU’s carbon emissions currently come from purchased electricity. The Pepco partnership is estimated to save electricity sufficient to power 1,600 homes, reducing emissions equal to removing 1,571 cars from the road or planting 2,145 acres of trees. However, more needs to be done, according to Wayne Shelton, director of campus sustainability and environmental safety.
“The Climate Action Plan is a roadmap for the campus community to achieve a net of zero greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “It is also a living document which will be regularly revisited and updated to reflect stakeholder recommendations, achievements and current best practices. The journey to zero greenhouse gas emissions will be an important learning experience for the campus community and provide an opportunity for SU to lead by example.”
Last year, SU’s Teacher Education and Technology Center (TETC) became the first building certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council, setting a precedent for other new construction at the University. All future campus buildings are being designed with LEED Silver certification as a minimum goal. Some, such as the new home for the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business currently under construction along Route 13, will aim for LEED Gold certification. Several older buildings, including residence halls in the Quad, are being renovated in an effort to also meet LEED certification standards. Using USGBC standards helps reduce energy waste as well as the impact on the environment.
Additional measures SU is considering include the purchase of renewable energy such as solar power produced locally, adding software to help reduce the amount of energy used by campus computer servers and purchasing carbon offsets.
The University is also looking to reduce carbon emissions from the second largest producer, vehicle travel—which includes commuting students, faculty and staff; air travel for conferences and scholarly presentations; and the University’s own fleet of cars, trucks and vans. SU is encouraging faculty and staff to consider attending conferences digitally via satellite and computer uplinks and, in the future, possibly even telecommuting to work when appropriate. Plans in the more distant future include the possibility of free bus passes for students, faculty and staff to encourage public transportation use. SU also will continue adding hybrid and flex-fueled vehicles, which may use either traditional gasoline or ethanol, to its motor pool.
Other actions recommended in the plan include an incentive system for schools, departments and offices meeting set carbon reduction goals, as well as the continuation and expansion of the University’s recycling and composting initiatives.
The Presidents Climate Commitment is the first effort of its kind to target climate neutrality, not just a reduction. It was inspired by efforts such as the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, and is supported by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Second Nature and ecoAmerica.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU sustainability Web site at www.salisbury.edu/president/sustainabilityinitiatives.