Climate Action Plan Outlines Carbon Neutrality at Mason

Posted: February 15, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: February 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

By Dave Andrews

Sustainability is no longer just a topic of conversation at Mason. It’s become a part of the university’s culture.

Last month Mason administrators signed off on the university Climate Action Plan. The 53-page action plan, two years in development, outlines Mason’s objective to reduce campus emissions by 80 percent over the next 40 years. The end goal is to achieve a net zero carbon footprint, or “carbon neutrality.” Plans to offset the other 20 percent are currently being developed.

To meet the emissions reduction targets, the Office of Sustainability and the Core Planning Committee  developed a set of policies, projects and research guidelines. Specific goals were set forth for the years 2012, 2014, 2020, and projects were outlined to meet those goals.

These plans include strategies for generating renewable energy, reducing transportation emissions, refining recycling procedures and integrating the Climate Action Plan into the campus’ master plan.

“We welcome everyone to participate in assisting with the implementation of these projects and our climate action strategy,” says Lenna Storm, Mason’s sustainability coordinator. “These goals are attainable, but only with the help of the entire Mason community. It’s easy for anyone to become an active participant in reducing costs and emissions.”

In addition to Storm, co-authors of the plan included

  • Colin Bennett, sustainability outreach coordinator, Office of Sustainability
  • Aaron Hartman, research collections analyst, University Libraries
  • Robert Johnson, MS student, Environmental Science and Policy
  • Dann Sklarew, associate professor, Environmental Science and Policy

Dozens of other students, faculty and staff members from across the university also contributed to the final product through an ongoing Climate Action Team and at least two for-credit courses since spring 2008.

In July 2007, President Alan Merten signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). This act committed Mason to eventually become carbon neutral. In just the last few years, many new policies have been initiated to encourage emissions reduction, such as Mason’s commitment to green building and the rapid expansion of alternative transportation methods.

Mason’s first Greenhouse Gas Inventory was completed in September 2008 and updated in December 2009. The Climate Action Plan completes Mason’s first cycle to measure the progression of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions and to chart the path to carbon neutrality beginning with the 2010-11 cycle.

Mason’s Office of Sustainability will be responsible for ensuring that the Climate Action Plan evolves along with federal and state regulation and legislation. The plan will also need continual modifications as technological advancements are made in the field of sustainability.

The Climate Action Plan can be viewed in its entirety on the ACUPCC web site. To find more information about Mason’s sustainability efforts, go to sustainability.gmu.edu.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu