Please describe your institution's greenhouse gas mitigation strategies.
GHG emissions associated with energy use are by far the largest fraction of total GHG emissions at WMU. We will gradually reduce energy use by upgrading the efficiency of existing facilities, refining automation, by replacing older buildings with more efficient ones, and through behavior change. Funding for most projects (aside from new buildings) will come from our long established quasi-endowed green fund, supplemented by the addition of a $1 million GRF, which will be fully endowed by 2016. Projections indicate that no purchased power will be needed after 2038.
Any buildings added in the future will be compatible with renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar panels (PV and/or thermal collection) and geothermal heating. Combined with retrofitting and other installations, renewable energy is targeted to provide 9% of electricity demand and as much as 50% of space heating by 2065. The central power plant is envisioned to continue providing base load power, but starting around 2040, the present natural gas co-generation equipment will be replaced with more climate-neutral generating technology, in two major phases. The specific technology to be used has yet to be determined.
Administrative policy will require GHG offsets be purchased for all university sponsored air travel by 2020. Policies will also encourage car-pooling, alternative means of commuting, and shorter commuting distances for both students and staff. On-campus housing capacity for students will be substantially increased. We have begun replacing university owned gasoline and diesel vehicles with vehicles using zero net carbon fuels or electricity. Electric vehicles will be charged on-campus off-peak, to help level the load of our generating facility.
Fugitive emissions will be eliminated by 2045 through replacement of refrigerants and sealing leak sources. Solid waste and wastewater emissions will be reduced through increased recycling and local composting. We plan to offset remaining emissions after the target date (at the level of about 5000 tonnes equivalent CO2) by direct investment in local, off campus, carbon reduction projects.
Please describe your institution's plans to make sustainability a part of the
curriculum for all students.
The Office for Sustainability has created a variety of programs and co-curricular activities that supplement the existing formal curriculum. These include an internship program (which has supported more than 50 students to date); a student sustainability grant program; a residential fellowship in the historic Gibbs House, which serves as a laboratory for sustainable living, and Office for Sustainability projects and initiatives.
To help build sustainability into the fabric of what we do and how we do it, the Office for Sustainability, with support from the provost, created a new initiative in 2012, Sustainability Across Research and Teaching (StART), with support from the provost. Future plans under consideration to advance sustainability, climate change, and climate neutrality learning opportunities include:
1. Systematically assessing the scale and character of sustainability and climate change course content currently available across the entire WMU curriculum;
2. Working with WMU’s Office for Faculty Development to create faculty development opportunities to facilitate the infusion and integration of sustainability and climate neutrality education across the curriculum;
3. Redeveloping the Campus Sustainability website to share more information on WMU’s efforts to implement the ACUPCC with both alumni and community members;
4. Creating an html Office for Sustainability newsletter to help spread the word about programs, policies, and incentives to different constituencies;
5. Creating a public lecture series to share innovative GHG reduction efforts (such as zero net buildings and the Living Building Challenge) and to foreground pioneering efforts to advance community sustainability;
6. Working with the PUSC and the StART group to consider recommendation of a graduation requirement in sustainability (per recommendation of the ACUPCC);
7. Building an asset map of who is doing what on campus—climate change and sustainability related—to facilitate communication, cooperation, and collaboration; and
8. Identifying new opportunities and incentives to facilitate the success and expansion of the StART Initiative.
Please describe your institution's plans to expand research efforts toward the
achievement of climate neutrality.
Western Michigan University is a doctoral-granting university with “high research activity”, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. WMU is student-centered, discovery driven, and globally engaged. Cutting-edge research is a significant part of our continuing mission, and the enhancement of research efforts has a prominent place in the institutional strategic plans.
With regard to climate change, we plan to focus on six areas of research. These are areas where we already have faculty who are engaged or have expertise, or which promise applications which are particularly appropriate to our local situation. These areas are:
1. New techniques for energy management and conservation in buildings and manufacturing processes;
2. Practical applications of biomass as an energy source, both for stationary power generation and as fuels for transportation ;
3. Studying the efficacy of various means and strategies to facilitate energy conserving and sustainability-oriented behaviors among both individuals and groups;
4. New technologies for storing electricity or thermal energy locally, economically and practically, at a scale that is useful for campus, neighborhoods, or small utilities;
5. Carbon capture and sequestration, with particular emphasis on sequestration in suitable geologic formations which exist in Michigan; and
6. Analysis of actual costs and returns on investments in a wide variety of greenhouse gas mitigation efforts.
We recommend that the Office of the Vice President for Research seek out potential sources of external grant funds in these areas, and dedicate some fraction of internal research support funds to “seeding” researchers with new projects to develop. The Office for Sustainability may also play a role, with internships and as a clearinghouse for matching students with faculty who share interests in these areas.
Please describe your institution's plans to expand community outreach efforts toward the
achievement of climate neutrality.
WMU’s Office for Sustainability, founded in the fall of 2010, is dedicated to collaborate with Facilities Management, the Environmental Studies Program, Lee Honors College, student organizations such as the Western Student Association and Students for a Sustainable Earth, the Interdisciplinary Study Group on Climate Change (recently established in WMU’s Center for the Humanities), and other offices and departments on campus as well as individual faculty and staff members to identify and support partnerships to reduce GHG emissions and promote sustainability in our community, and beyond. In addition, Office staff collaborate with local, regional, and international groups, such as PeaceJam, and lecture widely on sustainability and climate neutrality. Future plans under consideration include:
1. Creating a public lecture series to share innovative GHG reduction efforts and to foreground pioneering efforts to advance community sustainability;
2. Offering faculty development opportunities to local schools to learn about sustainability and climate neutrality;
3. Collaborating with local schools to offer a summer fellowship to high school students that will be mentored by our Office for Sustainability interns;
4. Developing local carbon offset projects;
5. Continuing to expand Lifelong Learning Academy courses on climate change, sustainability, and climate neutrality;
6. Organizing experts on campus to make consultation services available to the public;
7. Utilizing social networking and collaborating with University Relations to issue periodic press releases to increase the effectiveness of information sharing;
8. Redeveloping the Campus Sustainability website to share more information on WMU’s efforts to implement the ACUPCC with both alumni and community members; and
9. Continuing to work with Kalamazoo’s mayor and community sustainability leaders to advance the goals of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement and the SW Michigan Regional Sustainability Covenant.
Efforts to review and assess progress as well as to identify new projects and initiatives will be built into the annual Office for Sustainability work-plan development process each May.