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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cleaning up our campuses

    Mark Jankauski, an undeclared freshman, recycles his newspaper. Campuses across the nation, including Arizona State University and  Northern Arizona University, recently signed an environmental pact to create climate-neutral campuses; however, the UA did not sign it.
    Mark Jankauski, an undeclared freshman, recycles his newspaper. Campuses across the nation, including Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, recently signed an environmental pact to create climate-neutral campuses; however, the UA did not sign it.

    Presidents from five Arizona colleges and universities have signed a commitment agreeing to create a climate-neutral campus. The University of Arizona was not one of the institutions that signed the agreement.

    Although the UA has not signed the pact, the campus is involved in many sustainability initiatives, including using reclaimed water for landscaping, solar power and greener building designs, said Paul Allvin, associate vice president of communications for the UA.

    “”There are pacts that people can sign and get press, and there are things that people do,”” Allvin said.

    Aimed at presidents of higher education institutions, the agreement involves conducting a study of emissions on campus, developing a plan for neutralizing the emissions and incorporating sustainability and climate change into curriculum.

    “”We’ve been working for a long time to get it to emerge on campus,”” said Martin Yoklic, an associate research scientist at the soil, water and environmental science department. “”We have watched our peer universities ASU and NAU take a much more active approach, especially at ASU.””

    The pact was developed by the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a group comprised of three environmental organizations: Second Nature, ecoAmerica and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

    The five Arizona institutions that have committed are Arizona State University, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa Community College, Northern Arizona University and Prescott College.

    One of the most visible steps in Arizona toward incorporating sustainability into curriculum is the new School of Sustainability at ASU. The Arizona Board of Regents approved the school in the summer of 2006, said Lauren Kuby, communications manager at the Global Institute of Sustainability, which brings researchers and officials together to study sustainability issues.

    Currently, there are six students in the school. For next semester, the college has admitted 20 students who were selected from more than 80 applications, Kuby said.

    Nationally, 146 institutions have agreed to the pact, which was launched in December, said Judy Walton, director of strategic initiatives for AASHE.

    The ACUPCC set a goal that 1,000 institutions will sign onto the agreement by 2009, but after an enthusiastic reception by institutions, they might set their goal higher, said Colleen Schell, vice president of marketing at ecoAmerica.

    “”It’s just been a very well-received program,”” Schell said. “”(The presidents) really understand their role in society driving this type of change.””

    The program is aimed at presidents because of the high profile they have in the campus community and their ability to affect university policy, Schell said.

    “”They are the decision makers, they are the only people to make this happen,”” Schell said. “”We had to go to the top.””

    Within a year of signing the agreement, presidents must agree to inventory their greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement stipulates presidents must also develop a plan for becoming climate-neutral as well as begin action toward those goals within two years, Walton said.

    The agreement allows presidents the ability to create their own plan toward becoming carbon-neutral as well as take into account the institution’s current status of emissions and environmental concerns, Schell said.

    President Robert Shelton could not be reached for comment.

    Organizers are optimistic the pact will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    “”We think that the impact of the campuses themselves going climate-neutral will be tremendous,”” Walton said, adding it would also have a notable impact on campus communities.

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