On March 19, the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit and Weatherhead Net Impact chapter co-hosted the CWRU Office of Energy & Sustainability for a Lunch & Learn about the university’s commitment to a neutral climate impact by the year 2050. Students asked many questions about the recent changes to the university’s recycling program and how they can get more involved in the CWRU Climate Action Plan.
Director Stephanie Corbett explained that at the time President Barbara Snyder signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, CWRU as a community produced 200,000 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (a measure of greenhouse gas emissions) annually. Signing the Carbon Commitment in 2008, the university has reduced its emissions by nearly 25% since, in line with their 2020 goal.
The bulk of CWRU’s energy consumption comes from the electricity purchased to keep the lights, heat and air conditioning on in all of our facilities, especially the research labs. (Just one specialized freezer meant to keep specimen viable can take as much electricity as the average U.S. household!) The university also tracks fuel consumption from university-sponsored vehicles, consumption from university-reimbursed travel (commuting and air travel), purchased paper, solid waste, water waste, and electricity transmission and distribution losses. The Office of Energy & Sustainability has even developed specialized tools to generate and use this big data to track our progress and find ways to improve.
Stephanie and Erin Kollar, Assistant Director, Office for Energy & Sustainability, work together with many partners across the university to ensure the CWRU Climate Action Plan stays on track. Projects include advanced coordination between departments and schools to ensure sustainability efforts are focused and cost-effective, new construction of LEED-certified buildings, and the campus-wide recycling program. Stephanie and Erin work across the campus to integrate sustainability into the curriculum and to educate community members on their individual ability to contribute to the Climate Action Plan. For instance, knowing which materials cannot be recycled and reusing and reducing material waste in our daily lives can encourage more businesses to join the recycling and composting industries, which helps our planet and economy long-term.
It was an enlightening session and discussion for business students and sustainability-minded folks alike!
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