Some say that becoming a “climate neutral” campus is impossible. “So is world peace,” responds Glenn Gilbert, Goshen College utilities manager.
Despite skepticism, GC has continued decreasing its carbon footprint.
Three years ago, President Brenneman signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and pledged to become a “climate neutral” college. The term “climate neutral” means that the amount of the campus’ net carbon emission would not add any carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Gilbert agrees that this seems like an unattainable goal—but nonetheless worth working towards.
With the construction of buildings like the Rec-Fitness and Music Centers in the 1990’s, GC’s total energy bills (including carbon emissions) were expected to increase. With motivation from the climate commitment, carbon emissions were reduced by 44 percent from its peak in the 1990-91 school year.
According to Gilbert, the decrease is due largely to a shift in priorities and decision making, which involves the college’s Ecological Stewardship Committee. Other efforts to decrease carbon dioxide emissions include the incorporation of native landscaping and composting. According to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment website, Goshen College reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by one metric ton from composting.
Gilbert also stressed the importance of conserving energy. In the past, the Union Buildings’ halls were lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Recently, he programmed the lights to shut off on sunny days, further reducing GC carbon footprint. Some day Gilbert would like to see alternative forms of energy at Goshen College. “But why create expensive forms of energy and then waste it?” Gilbert asked.
One way that Gilbert encouraged the GC community to continue decreasing its carbon footprint is by using alternative types of transportation. He acknowledged that the city of Goshen is becoming very bike friendly. When it’s too far to bike, Gilbert suggested Goshen’s Interurban Trolley, which runs between Goshen and Elkhart from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. The fare is one dollar for a one-way trip and bikes can even be loaded on the back of the trolley. For more information about the Interurban Trolley, visit http://www.interurbantrolley.com/ .
“This is only one way of reducing GC’s carbon footprint,” said Gilbert , who encouraged students to think of other ways to reduce their own carbon emissions.