CU student government is the first university in the nation to commit to zero net release of greenhouse gases
CU’s student government recently approved a carbon-neutral status plan for all UCSU-funded buildings, which requires the buildings to cut back on their fossil fuel usage.
The buildings controlled by UCSU include the Recreation Center, the University Memorial Center and Wardenburg Health Center.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education wrote the commitment, and the goal is to have at least 200 universities sign by June 2007. CU was the first to sign the agreement.
Rob Hall, energy program manager of the Environmental Center, said AASHE wants universities to reduce fossil fuel usage to prevent heat-trapping carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
The energy project stipulates that UCSU develop a plan for carbon neutrality – meaning that UCSU has a plan to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions in its buildings — in two years.
“It sets a vision to strive to become (carbon-neutral)” Hall said. “We have got to put our money where our mouths are, and this takes capital.”
The money could potentially go toward sensors to turn off lights when classrooms are empty and double-paned windows, which provide better insulation and reduce energy costs.
Many things included in the agreement have already been implemented by CU.
In 2000, UCSU approved an increase of $1 per semester in student fees to help fund wind power from the Xcel Energy.
This makes UCSU environmental director Amy Harris confident the plan will be easily accomplished within two years.
“We’ve already accomplished a lot. (A plan) for transportation, we can check that off the list. Also, 100 percent of the UCSU buildings are powered by wind. It’s symbolic of our commitment already,” Hall said.
CU may be the first university to sign the resolution, but Hall said many other universities are considering AASHE’s plan.
Both UCSU and the Environmental Center are hopeful this will encourage a university-wide commitment to the carbon-neutral plan.
“(The decision) depends on how we go about the plan. There are costs associated, but the return investment is huge. As a student, I prefer it not to (come out of student fees), but the idea is that it saves us all money,” Harris said.
To read AASHE’s member spotlight about CU or learn more about the association, visit http://www.aashe.org/
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Amanda Pehrson at email@example.com