Colleges Go Carbon Neutral

Syracuse's CAP includes the expanded use of videoconferencing, increasing the use of alternative-fuel vehicles, and improving water conservation across campus.

Reducing University Emissions: 'A Drop in the Bucket'

Like Duke, Syracuse will not rely only on professors and administrators but on students as well. The university intends to involve students in the analysis process to help identify retrofit projects that will make buildings more energy efficient and other sustainable projects that will eventually lead to carbon neutrality.

"Reducing carbon emissions at Syracuse is a drop in the bucket for the world," Sweet said. "Our students going out and helping the rest of the businesses around the world has a much more profound impact."

Once universities have increased energy efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions throughout their own campuses, the next step toward achieving a net zero carbon emission level will be carbon offsets. Capturing methane gas is just one example.

"You plant a tree which absorbs carbon ... or you make a home more energy efficient so it's producing less carbon," said Anna Prizzia, director of the University of Florida's Office of Sustainability.

Carbon Neutral Football Games

The University of Florida's Gators boasted the nation's first carbon neutral home football game in 2007 and expanded that achievement to the season the following year.

To reach that goal, the athletics program, with the help of the Florida Forestry Association and the Environmental Defense Fund, arranged for approximately 18 acres of privately owned land in North Florida to be set aside for a pine plantation forest.

To offset total carbon emissions -- from travelling fans, stadium operation, and team lodging -- for that single football game, the forest will need to be managed for 10 years.

Last year, the football program partnered with the Neutral Gator Initiative, a non-profit that funds local carbon reduction projects, to achieve carbon neutrality for an entire football season. As part of the project, volunteers went to low-income areas of Gainesville, offering energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs to the residents.

To expand the efforts, every third Saturday, volunteers partner with experienced members to provide low-flow showerheads, kitchen and bathroom aerators, hot water pipe insulators, and other retrofits.

Jacob Cravey, director of Neutral Gator, said the organization has completed more than 80 retrofits and expects to finish 200 by the end of the season.

"We are educating a Gator Nation one game at a time by using athletics as a vehicle to raise awareness about living a low-impact lifestyle," he said.

ABCNews.com contributor Adam Yosim is a member of the University of North Carolina's ABC News On Campus bureau.

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