Working toward a sustainable UW-EC

news, updates, events and announcements from throughout the campus community

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From the Sustainability Fellow

The work of sustainability happens all over campus, initiated and carried out by many people.  I feel so privileged to work with the great folks I've gotten to know in the past year and a half, many of whom have become not just colleagues but friends.  I hope we'll soon be hearing about their good work!  As Sustainability Fellow I want to take a few minutes to share what are right now some largely behind-the-scenes projects that will make their debuts at various points over the next six months.

THE CAMPUS CARBON EMISSIONS INVENTORY:  Our first inventory was completed in 2008 by eight students working under the direction of Dr Kristina Beuning; they nicknamed themselves the  "Carbon Neutral Team."  During their October visit to campus, the Board of Regents got to hear from several wonderful students, including two who spoke about their work on that first inventory, Isaac Borofka-Webb and Robyn Fennig.  Isaac and Robyn also work with me as campus sustainability interns.  Additionally, both of them are contributing to Carbon Neutral Team 2010.  Isaac, who is studying in Sweden this semester, posts to our class blog with photos of amazing winter biking and offering suggestions or information in some of our on-going discussions.  Robyn works directly with the class as a peer mentor;  having her experience and energy to draw on is wonderful!  After opening weeks in which we discussed Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe, began to learn about climate science from Dr. Jim Boulter, and managed to figure our individual carbon footprints with the guidance of Dr. Jim Phillips, our team of 15 students is hard at work gathering information for this year's report.  The campus will be hearing from them soon after spring break.  Their work will take its final form this summer, and will be presented to the campus community after fall semester begins; it will also be submitted to the Presidents' Climate Commitment reporting site where it will join the CNT '08 report.

THE CAMPUS CLIMATE ACTION PLAN (CAP): Drawing on the work of the '08 report, and on changes implemented in the interim, a team of faculty, staff and students is at work on the first iteration of our campus climate action plan: the document that will sketch out how we will move toward climate neutrality.  As you can imagine, this seemed pretty overwhelming at first, but we're coming to grips with it.  It helps that the PCC sees these campus plans as living and flexible documents that will be revisited frequently and updated as changing circumstances and changing knowledge afford new opportunities.  The current situation within the State of Wisconsin with regard to coal-fired plants is one such fluid and changing circumstance; being able to revise and update the CAP will obviously be a great help to us in this case, since as part of the UW System, our campus is not an independent actor in this situation.  We have a goal of mid-June for submitting that document to the Presidents' Climate Commitment reporting site.  When there is news to report on the CAP, you'll see it here.

THE CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY NETWORK:  With more than a year and a half of experience now, and with a much broader knowledge of the work of the campus, I am drafting a proposal for a Campus Sustainability Network that will recognize and build on the work being advanced on all fronts.  I will be working with Chancellor Levin-Stankevich to fine tune the plans; I hope to make an announcement about this during April--Earth Month!

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