Last week, the Scout reported that university administration planned to meet with representatives from the Student Environmental Action Coalition and the Sierra Club to consider making campus carbon neutral.
From where we sit, there are few projects that more deserve the full attention of the administration.
Carbon neutrality means Bradley would produce no net greenhouse gasses.
Whether or not you believe global warming is real, it’s hard to deny the fact that reducing carbon emissions saves money and is good for the environment.
And it’s not as if we’d be doing it alone.
More than 600 colleges have made the pledge, including Illinois State University, as part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.
Universities becoming carbon neutral is especially important because institutions of higher education have historically led the charge for change.
Plus, colleges and universities often serve as a guiding light for the communities they are situated in.
Think about the influence Bradley has in the community. When someone in Peoria, or even in central Illinois, is looking for an expert, the office of a Bradley professor is often their first stop.
So imagine if Bradley were to commit to making its campus carbon neutral. It’s likely that other institutions in the area would begin moving in that direction, creating something of a domino effect.
Not only would Bradley be committing to a more energy efficient campus, it would commit to teach its students about sustainability. That means students would learn, from experts, how to conserve energy, recycle and perform other tasks that would help reverse the effects of climate change.
It is important as young people to know the significance of going green, because we are the people who are going to be able to put what we know into practice.
We’re not naive, however, and we recognize there would be a cost associated with a plan such as this one. But the university would recoup some of the costs. Plus, spending money on such a worthy cause makes sense.
But the Climate Commitment has put together attainable guidelines on becoming a carbon neutral campus.
Steps such as creating a committee and completing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions would be reached in one year.
Those goals aren’t outrageous, are they?
Next the university would have to create and implement a climate neutral plan that would include milestones in the process of reaching carbon neutrality. All of these things take a long time, but we have to start somewhere.
It is important to recognize that in recent years, Bradley has been moving toward energy efficiency.
The Westlake Hall renovation and the new Hayden-Clark Alumni Center will both be build to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standards, that outline efficiency in buildings.
Even though Bradley is clearly beginning to head in the right direction, and more can always be done.
So we encourage the administration to make the commitment to go carbon neutral.
Climate change is one of the most important issues facing our generation, and if universities aren’t going to step up and make the big changes, who will?