Report Commends Goucher College for Keeping Its Carbon Footprint Low
Release date: April 22, 2010
An external environmental consulting firm recently conducted a greenhouse gas emissions inventory at Goucher, and found that the college is doing well in its efforts to reduce the emission of harmful gases.
Environmental Health and Engineering (EH&E), Inc., a Massachusetts-based environmental and engineering consulting firm, conducted the inventory, as required by the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Goucher College President Sanford J. Ungar signed the commitment in the summer of 2007.
Within a year of signing the commitment, participating colleges and universities must complete an inventory of all their greenhouse gas emissions. Within two years, they must 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.
"Completing this greenhouse gas emissions inventory is a key step in Goucher's plan to become more environmentally sustainable,” said Goucher President Sanford J. Ungar. "Now we can move on to creating our Climate Action Plan and making real and long-lasting changes. It is imperative that we do our part to help slow the pace of global warming.”
As part of the inventory process, EH&E examined the college’s energy consumption; its direct, mobile, and fugitive greenhouse gas emissions; purchased energy; and indirect emissions, which includes commuting, air travel, waste disposal, and contractor operations, from 1996 to 2009. EH&E also recognized the college’s composting practices, as well as its purchasing of Renewable Energy Certificates.
The inventory showed that, despite a significant increase in growth since 1996, the college’s greenhouse gas emissions have remained relatively low. Goucher increased faculty, staff, and students by 44 percent and enlarged the square footage of its buildings by 13 percent, but greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use and other sources owned by the college only went up 13 percent.
Goucher is also commended by EH&E for its decision in 1996 to switch from oil to natural gas for campus heating. Natural gas releases less greenhouse gas emissions per year than oil – 54 percent less nitrous oxide, 22 percent less methane, and 27 percent less carbon dioxide.
While the college has tracked its emissions from electricity usage and other internal sources, EH&E recommends that Goucher begin tracking emissions from air travel and off-campus sources not owned by the college. These sources – which include emissions from vendors; and from faculty, students, and staff who commute to the college – are the hardest to track because of their scope and the sheer volume of the data that must be gathered. Goucher’s first complete set of data in this area is from fiscal year 2009. In the future the college will use this data as a baseline.
According to members of the Goucher Environmental Sustainability Advisory Council (GESAC), data from the greenhouse gas inventory will be used to develop the Climate Action Plan, which will lay out how the college intends to achieve climate neutrality. Developing the plan will also include gathering input from Goucher community members. The plan is scheduled to be completed in the 2010-2011 academic year.
Goucher’s commitment to environmental sustainability is a key component of the college’s current strategic plan. For more information on Goucher’s green initiatives, visit www.goucher.edu/green.
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