University to go carbon-neutral by 2035

MADISON, NJ—At its October 2010 meeting, Drew University’s Board of Trustees approved a comprehensive Climate Action Plan that represents the school’s latest major step toward carbon neutrality.  Drew began the process of greening its campus in 2008 when University President Robert Weisbuch signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a nationwide pledge to drastically reduce energy consumption, waste and noxious emissions.

“The overarching goal of the Climate Action Plan is for Drew to eliminate entirely its carbon emissions by 2035,” says Christina Notas, the university’s campus sustainability coordinator.  “The plan comprises two policies that will bring the university within reach of its objective: environmentally responsible building guidelines and a pledge to purchase only Energy Star products.”

To ensure that all future capital projects at Drew meet the highest standards of eco-friendliness, the action plan stipulates that new buildings must be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified at the silver level.  Major renovations, according to the plan, must also earn the LEED distinction.  LEED, a trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council, is a designation awarded only to buildings that use green materials, technology and maintenance products.  In 2009, the university completed a new undergraduate student residence, McLendon Hall, which was New Jersey’s first LEED-certified college dormitory.

The action plan’s Energy Star policy requires that the university purchase only the most efficient appliances and electronics for use on campus.  Energy Star is a designation of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that indicates that a product is up to 70 percent more efficient than its non-Energy Star competitors.

Since 2008, Drew has implemented several programs to raise awareness of environmental issues and change the behaviors of its students, faculty and staff.  These include bicycle sharing and rentals, increasing campus recycling and convening a team of student eco-reps who encourage green habits in residence halls.

“A major part of Drew’s sustainability philosophy is instilling a conservation ethic in students,” says Notas.  “We want to teach them to be responsible citizens of both the Drew community and the world at large.”

Notas, who is helping the university realize a cleaner, greener future, is excited about setting the Climate Action Plan into motion, calling its approval by the board “the highlight of the year.”

“The passing of the action plan resolution made me jump for joy,” she says.  “Now, the hard work begins.”