President Merten Commits to ‘Climate Neutral’ Campus

Posted: August 20, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

President Alan Merten recently committed to sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of Mason’s global warming emissions, as well as accelerating the research and educational efforts to re-stabilize Earth’s climate.

The pledge came with Merten’s signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), joining leaders of 332 other institutions across the country.

“By making this commitment, colleges and universities across America are taking the lead in addressing an urgent issue that affects all of us,” said Merten. “As a university, Mason is in the unique position of being able to make positive changes on campus while at the same time educating our students, faculty and staff of the importance of being stewards of the environment.”

Merten will create a comprehensive institutional action plan to move toward climate neutrality. In the short term, Mason will continue investigating specific actions in areas throughout the university, such as:

  • The signing of an energy-saving performance contract with Siemens Building Technologies Inc. to reduce the university’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 32 million pounds annually for the next 15 years—the equivalent of taking 2,800 cars off the road;

  • A university-wide environmental task force looking at making the campus more energy efficient and environmentally friendly;

  • The hiring of an energy management specialist to help manage the “green” aspect of buildings and maintenance; and

  • The hiring of a sustainability coordinator to lead initiatives across the university.

“Over the next five to six years, Mason has projected construction of more than three million square feet of additional building space, and we are committed to adding the space in an environmentally protective manner,” said Maurice Scherrens, senior vice president of the university. “Concurrent with this commitment on new construction, we are aggressively pursuing strategies to improve energy conservation on our existing facilities.”

The ACUPCC is the first such effort by any major sector of society to set climate neutrality—not just a reduction—as its target. This undertaking by America’s colleges and universities is inspired by efforts such as the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and other collective efforts by states and businesses.

More information can be found on the ACUPCC web site.

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