GW mulls green group

GW is absent from a list of more than 100 colleges and universities that agreed to work toward eliminating carbon emissions and promote a more environmentally friendly campus.

The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a group dedicated to tackling global warming through eliminating carbon emissions on college campuses, invited GW to join the group last December. The University responded to the group March 1 saying it would consider joining.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz’s office is reviewing the invitation, officials said. Assistant Director of Media Relations Matt Lindsay said there is no timeline for when GW would make a decision about if they would join this group.

“GW has undertaken many projects that have reduced carbon emissions, but GW has not set a specific target for reducing carbon emissions by particular amounts or dates,” wrote Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services, in an e-mail.

Haaga said the University is already taking steps to make GW more environmentally friendly. She cited replacing incandescent with florescent light bulbs, installing energy-efficient washers and dryers in residence halls and removing halogen lamps found in student residence halls as steps GW has already taken.

The measures have helped maintain a level of energy usage during the past five years despite University growth, Haaga said.

Other schools, particularly those who have signed onto the University Presidents Climate Commitment, have come up with innovative ways to become more environmentally friendly. Of the program’s more than 140 signatories, Cornell University boasts one of the most successful reduction rates.

By increasing fees on student parking permits and rewarding students who don’t purchase permits, Cornell officials say they have encouraged public transportation and experienced a 51,000-ton reduction in greenhouse gas emission, according to the group’s Web site.

In addition to advocating public transportation options, the Presidents’ Commitment requires signatories to purchase at least 15 percent of energy from renewable sources, to use ENERGY STAR-certified appliances and to use environmentally friendly building standards. The presidents of participating colleges and universities will meet in June to set deadlines for carbon emission elimination.

GW students are not just waiting for administrators to create more environmentally friendly policies. Students have responded by creating organizations to lobby for environmentally sound policies.

Two new groups have emerged this year to help make GW greener. Green GW and Environment GW are both groups that attempt to promote environmentally friendly campus policies

Junior Maggie Desmond, president of Green GW, said there is a growing national interest in environmental affairs.

“There are a lot of people (on campus) interested in it right now,” Desmond said. “The fact that there are five (student organizations at GW) shows that something’s being done, at least on the student side.”

Green GW has been responsible for a campaign to encourage students to shorten showers, unplug unnecessary appliances, turn off lights and recycle.

Professor Mark Starik, the chair of the Department of Strategic Management and Public Policy in the Business School, said while GW has been progressive, more can be done.

“We did have a green university effort in the mid-90s, and a few achievements can be cited … but much, much more is possible,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Hatchet.

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