Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

University signs commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Chancellor Robert Coombe has signed a commitment to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions at the University of Denver as part of an effort initiated by students at DU and hundreds of colleges across the nation to combat global warming.

As part of the commitment, the University plans to form a sustainability council this fall and complete an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions within a year.

“The DU community is concerned with global warming and vested in sustainability,” Coombe says. “Universities should play an important role in building sustainability through continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

With Coombe’s action, DU becomes one of 271 institutions thus far to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). DU officials corresponded at length with ACUPCC before signing, working to ensure the nature and limits of DU’s climate commitment were understood. 

Signatories agree to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality; to inventory current greenhouse gas emissions and take steps to reduce them while longer-term plans are being developed; and to report progress to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Sustainable DU, a coalition of student groups and individuals formed to increase dialogue and action on sustainability, built support for DU’s involvement in the climate commitment through grassroots organizing and continued communication with DU administrators. Eric Kornacki, a senior international studies and economics major and the group’s spokesperson, says Sustainable DU is excited that the University has officially signed on to the commitment.

The group is planning a celebration to recognize the DU community’s efforts to curb global warming with an ice cream social at 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, on Campus Green.

“I congratulate Chancellor Coombe for his bold leadership,” Kornacki says. “DU’s commitment toward reducing its ecological footprint and putting forth a comprehensive plan for sustainability ensures that the prestige and excellence of this university do not come at the expense of future generations.”

DU has already implemented a number of actions recommended by the climate commitment, says Coombe, including providing public transportation passes for students and employees; constructing LEED certified “green” facilities, purchasing renewable wind energy and reducing energy consumption. 

The University continues to investigate additional measures as new technologies become available and will implement them as resources permit, Coombe says.

As part of the climate commitment, the University has agreed to set up a sustainability council made up of administrators, faculty, staff and students to guide the development and implementation of a comprehensive climate plan; to complete a greenhouse gas emission inventory within one year; and within two years to develop a University action plan for targeted greenhouse gas reductions with the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality. 

The University will continue to target greenhouse gas reductions while the more comprehensive plan is being developed and as resources allow, says Coombe. 

“Colleges and universities must lead the effort to reverse global warming for the health and well-being of current and future generations,” says Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University and a founding member of the ACUPCC Leadership Circle. “On behalf of all the signatories, I welcome Chancellor Coombe to the commitment; we are honored and pleased to have him join us.”

Read more about DU’s environmental initiatives.

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