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Fraction of NC Universities Combatting Climate Change

Officially that is - I'm sure the others are doing what they can to help out as well.

Back in July it was announced that Duke University had joined the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, making it the 6th institution of higher education to sign it in the Old North State, behind Catawba College, Guilford College, Haywood Community College, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Warren Wilson College. Needless to say there's not red & white in that group.

While it's acknowledged that climate change will not be stopped with any one movement or action plan, even by the most extreme tree-hugging alarmists, the agreement sets forth the principle that universities, and indeed the entire academic community, need to be on the forefront of the fight to reduce wasteful use of the environment and develop innovative strategies to mitigate our impact on it. And rightfully so I would say. As the institutions charged with the education of today's and tomorrow's leaders and followers, universities should be the first to put their feet in the mud, if for no other reason than because of the extremely impressionable age of their clients.

The agreement binds signatories, at least in spirit, to the following commitments:

1. Initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.

a. Within two months of signing this document, create institutional structures to guide the development and implementation of the plan.

b. Within one year of signing this document, complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions (including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting, and air travel) and update the inventory every other year thereafter.

c. Within two years of signing this document, develop an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral, which will include:

i. A target date for achieving climate neutrality as soon as possible.

ii. Interim targets for goals and actions that will lead to climate neutrality.

iii. Actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.

iv. Actions to expand research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality.

v. Mechanisms for tracking progress on goals and actions.

2. Initiate two or more of the following tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gases while the more comprehensive plan is being developed.

a. Establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

b. Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.

c. Establish a policy of offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel paid for by our institution.

d. Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our institution

e. Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity consumption from renewable sources.

f. Establish a policy or a committee that supports climate and sustainability shareholder proposals at companies where our institution's endowment is invested.

g. Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or more associated measures to reduce waste.

3. Make the action plan, inventory, and periodic progress reports publicly available by providing them to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for posting and dissemination.

For more information, visit the President's Climate Commitment website.