Forum Seeks Input on How UB Can Achieve Climate Neutrality

Release Date: October 15, 2008 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In less than a year, the University at Buffalo -- along with hundreds of other colleges and universities nationwide -- will publicly release an institutional action plan describing how UB will go "climate-neutral," reducing or offsetting all of its greenhouse gas emissions. Development and release of the plan is required of all signatories of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which UB President John B. Simpson signed in March 2007.

"The plan to make UB climate neutral will only succeed if it has at its core ideas generated by students, faculty and staff about how best to meet this unprecedented challenge," Simpson told the campus community last week.

That's why Simpson has asked students, faculty and staff to attend the UB Sustainability Forum, "Planning for a Climate Neutral Campus," on Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

The purpose of the forum is to explain the Presidents Climate Commitment, introduce the members of the Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC) and discuss its progress, describe the benchmarking UB Green is doing to track the university's climate impact and to solicit from the UB community what should be the critical ingredients in the university's plan for climate-neutrality.

"The plan has to reflect our campus values; it won't be successful if we don't win the hearts and minds of the students, the faculty and staff," said ESC chair Robert G. Shibley, professor of architecture and planning and senior advisor to Simpson on the university's comprehensive physical plan.

The forum is sponsored by the UB ESC, which was organized as a response to Simpson's signing of the Presidents Climate Commitment and as part of the development of the university's comprehensive physical plan, known as Building UB.

Through the UB Green office, the university has completed the first significant step in developing the climate-neutrality plan by compiling an ongoing inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

Shibley noted that UB has had decades of experience implementing energy conservation efforts, saving the university millions of dollars.

Most recently, the university's greenhouse gas emissions were cut by 4 percent as the result of an energy management cost reduction project implemented by Chevron Energy Solutions that included conservation measures in 27 buildings on the UB South (Main Street) and North campuses and the installation of UB's first solar roof on Norton Hall.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency also recently announced it will provide a $450,000 grant to the university to boost energy efficiency at UB's Center for Computational Research in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

Goals that will be discussed at the forum are ways to: cut energy consumption by buildings, achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold or platinum certification for new construction; boost renewable energy sources; improve green computing, videoconferencing and telecommuting; reduce demand for transportation while providing incentives for alternatives; increase Energy Star purchasing and campus-wide use of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper; facilitate research and teaching on issues related to climate change and develop communications strategies that increase support for a climate-neutral campus.

"We've done a lot of the low-hanging fruit projects on this campus," said Shibley. "The next step is a little bit of a harder reach, but we're ready to take that next step and that's what this planning process is all about."

From 11 to 11:50 a.m., Shibley will educate attendees about the Presidents Climate Commitment and how the ESC is organized to respond to it.

From noon to 1 p.m., participants will be able to choose among discussion sessions held by each of the ESC's six working subcommittees: energy; transportation; information technology; materials; research, teaching and public service; and outreach and communications.

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