SEAC holds rally in support of carbon neutrality

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September 21, 2007

3:56 AM

Yesterday the College’s Landscape, Energy and Environment (LEE) Committee decided to endorse the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which proposes measures to make the campus carbon neutral by 2020. An official recommendation to President Nichol will not come until Monday.

p. The Student Environmental Action Coalition is viewing the endorsement as a positive step. SEAC has been pushing for Nichol to sign onto the PCC since last year. When presented with the document last spring, Nichol deferred the decision to the College’s standing committee of experts on College environmental issues, the LEE Committee, which met yesterday to discuss the proposal.

“Nichol has made it clear that he really respects the counsel of the LEE Committee,” SEAC Media Coordinator Ryan Lintelman ’09 said.

p. Over 400 other institutions, including 11 in Virginia, have signed the PCC. Government Professor Maria Ivanova and
collaborating students issued a report in May 2007 documenting that the College “is currently lagging behind its peer group on the issue of climate change.”

p. The PCC provides a framework with guidelines for institutions of higher learning to implement carbon neutrality on their campuses.

p. However, it leaves room for interpretation for each school. SEAC has proposed suggestions for the College to meet guidelines laid out by the PCC, such as having a freshman orientation program or GER focused on environmental sustainability or having a Sustainability Coordinator who would serve the functions of sustainability education, facilities improvements and policy advising in the area of energy and sustainability, Caroline Cress ’10 said. Cress is a student member of the LEE Committee.

p. Prior to the meeting yesterday afternoon, nearly 100 students showed their support by participating in a rally led by SEAC facilitators Jake Reeder ’09 and Josh Wayland ’08. Students surrounded the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, where the committee meets, wearing green and carrying pinwheels and signs to show their support for renewable energy.

p. “SEAC members who marched to the law school showed up before the meeting and stayed for a while during it. They walked around outside, past the window of the room in which we were meeting,” Cress said. “It was great– the entire committee looked outside and saw them waving pinwheels and holding up signs. It was a great demonstration of student support.”

p. Last year, the College used 68,306,552 kilowatts of electricity, costing the school over $3 million. Total energy costs were over $6 million. The energy consumption has increased over the past three years, which has resulted in a greater price to pay, both economically and environmentally.

p. SEAC also created a faculty and student petition in support of the PCC, which was signed by 780 students and 300 faculty.

p. “With all the research students have done on the feasibility of committing to carbon neutrality, signing his name on the paper is probably the hardest thing Gene Nichol will have to do,” SEAC member David Sievers ’07 said.

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