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01/29/2008 -- UND President Kupchella Signs Climate Commitment; UND Pledges To Continue Reducing Carbon Footprint, Energy Consumption
The University of North Dakota has pledged to do its part to curb global warming. UND President Charles Kupchella has signed the "American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment," which commits UND to finding ways to dramatically reduce its own contributions to greenhouse gases. An additional benefit to UND will be reduced energy costs.
"Recognizing that on a day like this the last thing on anyone's mind is global warming, it has nevertheless been clear for some time now that the Earth's climate is getting appreciably warmer. While there are some positive aspects to this, especially in colder climates such as our own, the general consequence of this warming is negative for Earth as a whole,â€ said Kupchella. â€œIt has also become clear that human activity, while it may or may not be the only cause of warming cycles -- cycles have occurred repeatedly over geologic time -- our generation of greenhouse gases certainly contributes to global warming. It is prudent that the nations of the world and, indeed, institutions like UND begin to take steps to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases."
A secondary, but also important, consequence of any such steps taken: a reduction in energy costs and, thus, operating costs. By signing the President's Climate Commitment, Kupchella set in motion the process for developing a plan over the next several years to achieve climate neutrality by a future date to be set by UND.
"Because of the acute importance of the global warming issue and the immediate benefits that would come from optimal utilization of energy, I felt it was important to take the step now to set into motion a process by which the University might model positive corporate behavior. I believe we have a moral and social responsibility to lead when it comes to issues such as these. What we would be doing here parallels our emphasis on wellness as a University and, indeed, environmental wellness is one of the seven dimensions of wellness identified by our wellness group more than two years ago,â€ said Kupchella.
Kupchella committed UND to the following steps:
* Within two months, appoint an institutional standing â€œCouncil on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.â€ Kupchella has already appointed a core group, and is seeking expression of interest in serving on this council.
* Charging the committee to develop, within two years, an institutional plan to achieve optimal energy efficiency and to achieve climate neutrality by some yet-to-be-identified time in the future.
* Within one year, complete a campus climate impact inventory of all of the University's greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting, and air travel, and update the inventory every other year thereafter. The process for conducting this inventory has already been discussed and may take the form of a research/thesis project.
* Within one year, identify all curricular and academic programs being offered by the University and assess the degree to which each of these courses and programs address the issue of sustainability.
* Within one year, prepare an inventory of all current, directly environmentally relevant UND research projects. The list will then be kept up-to-date on an ongoing basis.
* Over the next several years, carry out at least two of the following:
-- Establish a policy by which all new campus construction will be built at least to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEEDs silver standard or its equivalent (Note: this is already under way);
-- Adopt an energy efficient appliance purchasing policy for the University (Note: this is already taking place);
-- Find ways to offset the greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the University's use of air travel;
-- Encourage the use of public transportation (Note: this is already being done);
-- Take steps to eventually achieve the status of having at least 15 percent of the energy used by the University coming from renewable sources;
-- Establish a policy or committee that supports climate and Sustainability shareholder proposals at companies where UNDâ€™s endowment is invested.
"One primary reason for signing this climate commitment is that much is already being done by the University, and, in effect, by signing this we are celebrating steps already taken," said Kupchella.
Among those strategies already in place:
* The University has embarked on a comprehensive energy efficiency improvement program using state bond funding. This currently generates a savings of about $500,000 a year, which is being used to pay off the bonds. The lighting efficiency program, alone, has eliminated the use of the equivalent of 164,610 100-watt bulbs.
* The University already has a number of environmental programs, including a wide variety of programs at the Energy & Environmental Research Center. UND also has programs in such areas as environmental engineering, environmental geoscience, environmental management, and environmental studies, and is home to such units as the Environmental Training Institute and the Tribal Environmental Law Project.
* UND has a well-established recycling program which keeps nearly 500 tons of waste material annually out of area landfills. The ongoing quest to find a suitable replacement for the current landfill is a major regional issue.
* The Energy & Environmental Research Centerâ€™s Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership is currently embarking on the third phase of a major effort to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of carbon sequestration, a major emerging strategy in greenhouse gas mitigation. The Phase III effort, to be constructed over the next 10 years and with an estimated value of more than $300 million, is the culmination of the PCOR Partnershipâ€™s actions over the last five years. The PCOR Partnership has more than 70 public and private sector partners in a nine-U.S.-state, four-Canadian-province area.
* The University has long supported a shuttle program and the City of Grand Forks has established bus transportation to and from campus.
* UND recently completed and opened a parking ramp, which will help alleviate on-campus automobile travel.
* Research is being carried out in the Department of Chemical Engineering and in the Energy & Environmental Research Center on the use of bio-fuels and other recognizable projects.
* The University has already completed buildings according to LEEDs standards, including the new "University Place" as well as in other buildings currently under construction.
Kupchella noted that â€œthe work of the new council and the Climate Commitment dovetails nicely with Grand Forks Mayor Brownâ€™s â€˜Green Grand Forksâ€™ initiative announced recently.â€
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL
STEWARDSHIP AND SUSTAINABILITY
David Barta, Student, Senior in Political Science
Randy Bohlman, Technology Advancement Coordinator, Facilities
Bob Gallager, Vice President for Finance and Operations
Will Gosnold, Professor, Geology
John Harju, Associate Director for Research, EERC
Manohar Kulkarni, Professor/Chair, Mechanical Engineering
Nathan Leidholm, Student, Senior in Classical Studies/Member of â€œECOâ€
Michael Mann, Chair, Chemical Engineering (Member of Mayor Brownâ€™s Green3 Resource Committee)
Martha Potvin, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
George Seielstad, Director, Center for People and the Environment
John Watson, Dean, School of Engineering and Mines
Larry Zitzow, Director, Facilities
TBN, Graduate Student in Earth Systems Policy
TBN, Graduate Student in Environmental Engineering
TBN, Additional Undergraduate Students?
TBN, Additional Faculty
TBN, City of Grand Forks
TBN, Electric Utility Industry