Warren Wilson College News

What are we doing about global warming?

You are probably acutely aware of the climate change these past few days. Here are some basic facts and an update on current steps Warren Wilson is taking to fulfill its climate citizenship.

In three years, WWC has shown a 1.5% increase in electricity use, a 6.9% decrease in natural gas use, a 4.5% increase in total building square footage, and a 5.3% increase in overall population (staff, students, faculty). These numbers will continue to be refined by the Campus Greening Crew, along with other significant data, so that by the end of the academic year, there will be a meaningful picture to share with the community.

There are several initiatives underway to keep WWC focused on its commitment to respond to climate change. As signators (Sandy Pfeiffer is in the Founder’s Circle) of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment we have pledged to these four actions (two were required from a list of seven):

*We have recently established a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the US Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or the equivalent.

*We have recently strengthened a policy to require purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.

*We have pledged to continue providing access to free public transportation, via the Asheville bus route that stops on our campus, for all faculty, staff and students at our institution.

*We will continue to purchase renewable energy credits to offset our institution’s electricity consumption.

You may say, this is not enough!

Here are more initiatives underway:

*There is a newly formed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Task Force with faculty, staff and student representation. We are meeting regularly to formulate specific GGE reduction targets for recommendation to the College this spring.

*The Campus Greening Crew is preparing energy monitoring aids for buildings on campus that will encourage conservation (and so much more).

*There are resources being developed by the Community Sustainability Crew to educate visitors to the Green Walkabout website about how they can build, garden, and live with greater climate consciousness (aka “green”).

*Students, faculty and staff will be focusing the campus on January 31st – national Focus the Nation day – to the need for climate change action.

*The ELC’s Mountain Green initiative will soon launch its monthly speakers series for 2008 and then its next conference, June 25, 2008, to discuss best practices for responsible development of our mountain region – and that includes energy conservation!

*Through WWC’s climate change partnership with the City of Asheville, the ELC is offering several climate change-related, paid internships this summer and there are a number of other regional partner initiatives underway to further educate the community about the need to get involved in responsible climate change behavior.

*There are a multitude of campus emissions conservation measures in place, and more added everyday. Facilities Management and, in fact, most campus work crews are working hard to apply best practices, and stay alert to the need.

*There is a third greenhouse gas inventory underway and 3-year trends in emissions will be available once this is complete.

*There are plenty of WWC students engaged in this issue and working in different ways to bring about change.

What more can we do? Plenty. Right now. Starting with each of us – our dorm rooms, homes, offices, travel plans – greenhouse gas emissions reductions are our responsibility. For starters,

*Go to epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html and see how you’re contributing to climate change.

*Visit epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/home.html and see how you can begin to reduce your impact.

*Visit www.wncgbc.org/offset/ and check out how you can offset your carbon right here in western North Carolina.

Community matters. Let’s join together on this issue and drive the meters down!

Contact Margo Flood at the ELC (ACUPCC agreement/Partnership with City/Task Force; 2002; mflood@warren-wilson.edu), Stan Cross (Campus Greening Crew/2007 Greenhouse Gas Inventory; 3782; scross@warren-wilson.edu), and Phillip Gibson (Mountain Green/Community Sustainability Crew/website; 3781; pgibson@warren-wilson.edu) if you would like to input some of these initiatives or discuss your concerns.

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