Ursinus College signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007. (Click here for the text of that commitment.) This action committed the College to writing a Climate and Sustainability Action Plan (CSAP) to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible, inventorying the College’s greenhouse gas emissions every other year, and making the action plan, inventories, and periodic updates publicly available. It is also in line with the College’s mission, to “nurture a sense of community by empowering the intellect, awakening moral sensitivity and challenging students to improve society” while also seeking to “enable students to become independent, responsible and thoughtful individuals.” The CSAP is a document that helps guide the College toward meeting its mission in the context of achieving carbon neutrality.
The College’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan and the sustainability programming that is in place to implement it share these goals and foster their development. With guidance from the CSAP, the Office of Sustainability provides students with opportunities to get involved at multiple levels, from participating in a dorm energy competition, to acting independently on self-designed projects centered on lowering the College’s carbon footprint, to integrating sustainability principles into the College community. Our CSAP, and the related sustainability programs encourage students and other community members to be thoughtful about their impacts on their community and the earth, their ability to influence and encourage others to participate in sustainable actions, and long-term solutions to the problems associated with climate change and its impacts.
In effect the process of becoming carbon neutral will be achieved through a variety of efforts, requiring varying degrees of financial, time and staffing commitments. The ACUPCC organization expects that colleges and universities will fulfill this commitment through a broad spectrum of approaches, depending on the institution’s resources, both financial and personnel. The Ursinus College CSAP is written to accommodate changing institutional priorities and capacities: flexibility in implementing the plan has been written into the document.
The ACUPCC requires that each plan address climate change in four broad areas:
This section of the plan deals with the projects that directly lower our greenhouse gas emissions. These types of projects include those dealing with energy saving measures, electrical usage, boilers, transportation, waste, construction, grounds, etc.
Programs aimed at educating the all members of the campus population about climate change as well as efforts to increase participation in energy-saving programs
The primary goal within the research category for an institution, such as Ursinus, is to promote participation in research regarding climate change to both faculty and students and to facilitate that research, as possible.
This section of the plan focuses on increasing awareness in the broader community about climate change and the Ursinus efforts therein. This includes opening our doors to the community for climate and sustainability-related events as well as participation in community-based projects.