In 2007, President Rosenberg signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment which commits Macalester College to make a plan for climate neutrality (i.e. no net greenhouse gas emissions). The commitment also requires an annual audit of greenhouse gas emissions, the development of institutional structures to support the project, implementation of two immediate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the development of an action plan with targets and timetables.
Climate Neutrality Date
Macalester College is committed to addressing climate change by taking responsibility for our institution's carbon footprint, rapidly reducing it, and becoming carbon neutral by 2025.
The two required immediate actions that Macalester College took to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were: 1) offer subsidized (50% off retail) bus passes for students, staff and faculty 2) purchase only energy star appliances, where these appliances are available.
The bus pass program started in February, 2008. In 2008-2009, nearly 3000 bus passes were sold to students, staff, and faculty. According to the results from a survey, Macalester College is reducing CO2 emissions by at least 9,246 pounds each year by subsidizing bus passes. The bus pass program was suspended during the spring semester when the item went significantly over budget. With additional funding from the President’s Office and student government, the program was reinstated until the end of this term. By recommendation of a group of students and staff, Macalester will continue to offer 50% subsidies on the $40 passes and 20% subsidies on all others.
Energy star appliances are purchased by Facilities Services. In addition, students are required to bring only energy star appliances for use in residence halls. The Residential Life office also worked with the refrigerator rental vendor to offer only energy star appliances to students.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
During the spring of 2008, the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar inventoried Macalester’s greenhouse gas emissions from 1990-2006. This baseline data was updated by the Sustainability office for 2007-2008 (figure one). In 2007-2008, Macalester College emitted an estimated 19,351 metric tons of C02 equivalents.
Figure 1: Macalester College 2007-2008 Greenhouse Gas Emission by Source.
Climate Action Recommendations
The 2009 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar developed recommendations for Macalester College’s Institutional Action Plan. Among other activities, the students recommended changing boiler fuels, installing energy efficiency projects, incorporating sustainability into the curriculum. See the students’ recommendations.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, the Sustainability Office also engaged the diverse stakeholders of the Macalester community in thinking strategically about sustainability. Sustainability Office staff as well as volunteer facilitators met with approximately 400 people in staff meetings, special facilitated discussions, and through tabling in the campus center. The guiding question was, “How does sustainability advance the core mission of Macalester College?” The group identified priority for both operational and academic parts of the college.
During the summer of 2009, the Sustainability Office merged the Institutional Climate Action Plan recommendations with the Sustainability priority areas identified through the Sustainability Strategic Plan. The result is a comprehensive sustainability plan.
The sustainability plan organizes specific tactics that will significantly reduce Macalester’s carbon footprint, promote behavior change within the campus community, and integrate sustainable practices into operations, under three broad categories:
- Leadership: by demonstrating and encouraging innovation and action
- Operations: designing, implementing and improving processes
- Education: changing behavior and raising awareness on campus and in the community.
The Leadership section includes Macalester’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2025. Figure two shows past greenhouse gas emissions and planned reductions.
To ensure the college delivers on the ambitious goals in this plan, we will annually track our greenhouse gas emissions and other sustainability metrics every two years.
The cost of implementing this plan will be financed by investing in energy efficiency and using the payback to fund climate neutrality/sustainability projects. In addition, the college will investigate innovative financing opportunities.
This plan is intended to guide sustainability projects on Macalester’s campus and to encourage collaboration with other groups, especially other institutions of higher education, as well as in the broader community.
Check out the Sustainability Plan.
Sustainability Manager Suzanne Savanick Hansen, hired in January of 2008, oversees the planning and implementation of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and the comprehensive sustainability plan.