GMC to Become First Climate Neutral Campus in Vermont
Hopefully you have heard the news that this year Green Mountain College will become the first campus in the country to become climate neutral after achieving reductions in its carbon footprint of more than 50%. Many people may not quite understand what it means to become a climate neutral campus, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain this to the GMC community.

In 2007 former GMC President John F. Brennan signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) which 674 colleges and universities have signed. In doing so, President Brennan set in motion a process for GMC to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. The ACUPCC sets the standard for the greenhouse gas emissions we must count and mitigate. One of the most important projects leading to our climate neutrality goal was the installation of the biomass plant, which will use local wood chips to heat buildings and at the same time produce electricity for use on campus. We have also increased energy efficiency across campus through window replacements, steam pipe replacements, lighting retrofitting, and behavior changes.

The ACUPCC encourages campuses to reduce their carbon emissions as much as possible and then invest in carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs) to achieve climate neutrality. This is what GMC plans to do in late fall. We will purchase carbon offsets equal to the remaining carbon emissions resulting from campus operations and faculty and student college-related travel —approximately 1,700 metric tons of carbon. We will also need to increase the purchase of RECs for the power that we receive from our local utility company; we currently purchase 50% of our power from CVPS’s Cow Power program.

Can we say that GMC emits no carbon emissions from its operations? Of course not. We cannot live without emitting CO2. What we will do is to ensure that according to standard ways of measuring CO2 emissions, the College will have no net emissions from operations or travel. Or to put it another way, all emissions we cannot reduce or mitigate by using renewable energy on site will be offset by reductions we enable elsewhere. We have taken bold steps to address the global warming challenge. We will continue to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint in the coming years, thus reducing the amount of carbon offsets and RECs that we purchase. Please look for future articles from the Campus Sustainability Council with updates and information about our on-going journey to climate neutrality.

Steven E. Letendre is a member of the Campus Sustainability Council and a professor of economics and environmental studies. Please e-mail Steven with questions at: letendres@greenmtn.edu.

The Campus Sustainability Council is bringing three carbon offset providers to GMC to discuss projects with the campus community. Please join us for these public presentations--feedback will be solicited so that GMC purchases the offsets most desired by the community. Come and learn, and let us know your priorities.

Sterling Planet
Robert A. Maddox, Chief Sustainability Officer
Mon., November 1, 1 p.m., Withey East Room

NativeEnergy, Inc.
Owen Glubiak, Sales and Business Development
Tues., November 2, 3 p.m., Withey East Room

Central Vermont Public Service Corporation
David J. Dunn, Manager of Renewables
Fri., November 5, 11 a.m., Ackley 334


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