Goucher College to Reduce Emissions 20 Percent by 2020
Release date: June 07, 2012
Goucher continues to implement the recommendations outlined by its first climate action plan to achieve the goal of reducing the college's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 20 percent by 2020.
The climate action plan is required by the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which Goucher President Sanford J. Ungar signed in the summer of 2007. The commitment requires that within two years of signing, participating colleges and universities develop comprehensive institutional plans, interim goals, deadlines, and tracking systems for becoming "climate-neutral" — reducing or offsetting all greenhouse gas production to create a "neutral" effect on global warming.
"With this climate action plan, we now have clear and workable steps to take to achieve that goal," said Ungar. "It will serve as a road map for achieving the college's goals of climate neutrality and incorporating sustainability into the everyday experiences of all of our community members."
The plan commits Goucher to reducing its total GHG emissions by 20 percent below its 2009 emissions by 2020. Members of the Goucher Environmental Sustainability Advisory Council (GESAC) partnered with Environmental Health and Engineering (EH&E), Inc. to use the ideas and the results of the college's completed GHG inventory to create a workable plan to reduce Goucher's carbon footprint.
Goucher has already begun adopting policies to meet this objective. In 2009, the college instituted a policy that ensures all new buildings or major renovations to existing buildings are planned with the goal of achieving at least a Silver rating according to the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. LEED buildings are required to include a variety of sustainable features, including energy-efficient windows, motion sensors for lighting, waterless urinals, and "green" roofs that reduce heat gain and alleviate stormwater runoff. The Athenaeum, completed in September 2009, is Goucher's first Gold-certified new building.
The college partnered with Waste Neutral Group, a sustainable waste management company, to collect all the pre- and post-consumer waste produced in campus dining halls. Waste Neutral picks up the food waste from Goucher three times a week for composting. In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, 31 percent of the campus's waste was diverted from landfills and composted.
Goucher also is now purchasing more than 11 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 100 percent of the college's electricity use. The college is buying this green power in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from Clean Currents, a wind power supplier to residential and commercial customers in Maryland, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
RECs are tradable environmental commodities in which one REC represents one megawatt-hour of electricity generated from an eligible renewable energy source. The purchase of RECs may be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions and help support the operation and development of domestic sources of cleaner, renewable energy.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Goucher's green power purchase of more than 11 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from nearly 2,000 passenger vehicles per year, or the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of more than 960 average American homes annually.
While the campus is on target to achieve a 15 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2020, more changes are needed to hit the 20 percent goal. In the next five years Goucher also has plans to:
- Install water and energy meters on all campus buildings to monitor usage
- Update building controls so equipment and heating and cooling systems can be shut down when not in use
- Convert all campus streetlights to more energy-efficient Light-Emitting Diodes (LED)
- Replace the boilers in Froelicher and Mary Fisher halls with higher-efficiency models
In addition, the college is exploring options to use more renewable energy on campus and to offer carbon offsets for traveling faculty and students studying abroad.