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Bard College Joins Growing List of Higher Education Institutions to Fight Global Warming with Commitment to “Climate-Neutral Campus”



Darren O'Sullivan
845-758-7649
osulliva@bard.edu
01-29-2008
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY—Building on its ongoing commitment to the environment, Bard College has pledged to sharply reduce and eventually eliminate all of the College’s greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate. The pledge came this week, with Bard President Leon Botstein’s signing of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, whereby Bard will create a comprehensive institutional action plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and move toward climate neutrality.

“Global warming is one of the defining challenges of our time,” said Botstein, noting that Bard has always strived to be a good environmental steward. “It’s important that institutions of higher education do more than just talk about environment issues. We should all be positive actors in addressing the important environmental issues of our times. In this case, that means taking serious action today to stop adding global-warming pollution to the atmosphere.”

Climate neutrality pledges have been signed by more than 460 colleges and universities, and many others are working on their own greenhouse gas-reduction plans. To create its institutional action plan, Bard will form a climate commission, which will consider concrete actions to take to reduce the College’s greenhouse gas emissions and move toward climate neutrality. Among the steps the commission will be considering are the following initiatives, some of which are already in place at Bard:

§ Adopt green standards for buildings
§ Require ENERGY STAR certification for products purchased by the College
§ Offset emissions due to air travel
§ Encourage public transportation
§ Purchase energy from renewable sources
§ Support climate and sustainability shareholder proposals through their endowment
§ Participate in the waste minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt three or more associated measures to reduce waste.


These efforts build on Bard’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, which includes the use of geothermal heat pumps in more than 20 campus buildings, including the Frank Gehry–designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Furthermore, the Bard Environmental Resources Department has, among other steps, established campuswide recycling and composting programs, encourages public and nonmotorized transportation, and has created a free store on campus to help students, faculty and staff reuse goods that have more life.

The Presidents Climate Commitment is the first such effort by any major sector of society to set climate neutrality—not just a reduction—as its target. This undertaking by America’s colleges and universities is inspired by efforts like the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, and other collective efforts by states and businesses.

“Colleges and universities must lead the effort to reverse global warming for the health and well-being of current and future generations,” said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University and a founding member of the ACUPCC Leadership Circle. “On behalf of all the signatories, I welcome President Botstein to the commitment. We are honored and pleased to have him join us.”

The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate. Under the guidance and direction of the Leadership Circle of presidents, the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment is being supported and implemented by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Second Nature, and ecoAmerica.

Learn more at: www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

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This event was last updated on 08-26-2008