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Eastern Reducing Greenhouse Gasses

Written by Jack Meltzer

loxsom-the climate is changing.JPG

Fred Loxsom, professor of environmental earth science and chair of   sustainable energy studies at Eastern, presents Eastern's plans for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Willimantic, CT -- The climate is changing and Eastern is doing its part to reduce green house gasses. That was the message conveyed by Fred Loxsom, professor of environmental earth science and chair of sustainable energy studies at Eastern, to a packed crowd of students, faculty and staff in the Student Center Theatre. His presentation, "Our Vanishing Footprint" discussed Eastern's plans and strategies for achieving the goals set out by the American College and University Presidents Climate Committee (ACUPCC).

Loxsom said energy consumption is the problem.  Electricity, heating and solid waste disposal can all be attributed to the carbon dioxide footprint that Eastern is leaving on its campus. Right now, Eastern emits 13 thousand metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.  Loxsom wants to reduce that figure to 9.3 metric tons by 2015, and eventually reach the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality, reducing greenhouse gasses to zero by the year 2050. 

In 2007, Eastern President Elsa M. Núñez was one of the early signatories of the ACUPCC.  That same year,  Eastern designated the Green Campus Committee (GCC) as the campus group responsible for implementing the Climate Commitment set out by the ACUPCC.  The University constructed three LEED-certified residence halls in 2003-04 and purchased Energy Star-certified appliances. In 2008, the GCC submitted its greenhouse gasses report to the ACUPCC, showing that it had complied with the tasks set out by the ACUPCC and the report included all the factors that are contributing to the carbon dioxide emissions. 

The Presidents Climate Commitment also recquired Eastern to develop an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral. "We demonstrated this commitment through our Sustainable Energy Studies academic program; the Institute for Sustainable Energy; LEED certified buildings; our president's commitment to sustainability goals; a strong recycling program; and several renewable energy and energy conservation projects," said Loxsom. 

He also said most of the heating energy on campus comes from hot water heating and space heating.  At least 70 percent of campus hot water heating energy could be supplied by solar hot water systems, thus reducing the carbon emissions by 1.1 metric tons.  Space heating, he said, can be reduced by improving insulation in existing buildings, especially with the use of geothermal heating and cooling.  By using geothermal heating, Loxsom estimates a reduction in space heating by 50 percent.

"Solid waste also is one of the biggest problems on the Eastern campus; we produce over 2,440 tons of solid waste a year.  We can reduce this number by recycling.  Loxsom wants to raise the percentage of recycled waste from 10 to 55 percent by 2015 by incorporating more receptacles on campus. 

The Green Campus Committee (GCC), which was founded in 2004, includes students, faculty and staff who serve as the tracking body and inform the campus community about Eastern's success in meeting these goals through an annual report and open forum.

Loxom concluded, "As we progress toward our climate neutrality goal, new technologies and new environmental pressures will inevitable require changes in the plans and may allow the University to meet this goal sooner. Nevertheless the target date, interim targets and analysis presented in this document will serve to guide this ongoing effort."


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