Campus celebrates Earth Day

On Wednesday, UND celebrated Earth Day a day late with a vendor fair in the Memorial Union and a campus-wide meeting held by the Council on Environmental Sustainability.

The meeting discussed ways in which UND has been reducing its carbon footprint and the ways in which it plans to continue reducing hopefully to the point where UND develops a neutral climate meaning it would provide no net greenhouse gas emission.

“We have been recognized nationally,” UND President Robert Kelley said in regard to UND’s efforts to be more sustainable.

The UND Council on Environmental Sustainability is working on leading people to being more environmentally sustainable, supporting efforts to be environmentally sustainable, developing a climate action plan and updating that biannually and advising administration and personnel in new technologies. The council is co-chaired by Larry Zitzow, director of facilities, and Soizik Laguette, chairman for the earth system science and policy department.

“It is hard but fun work,” Laguette said. “It is very rewarding.”

In 2006, UND signed the the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to eliminate campus greenhouse gas emissions over time.  Currently, there are 680 schools across the nation have signed this pledge.

Technology Advancement Coordinator Randall Bohlman said many colleges that have signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment have a goal to have no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.   UND did not target a net of zero greenhouse gas emissions because it did not think that was possible by 2050 because of the cold climate in North Dakota, Bohlman said.

“We do not know if it is possible to develop a neutral climate, but we are trying to,” Bohlman said.

Since 2007, UND has been tracking greenhouse gas emissions with inventory reports and has found that over half of the greenhouse gas emissions at UND come from what is called direct emissions which includes the steam plant on campus and transportation such as the UND fleet of vehicles and aviation.

UND has completed four rounds of projects to become more energy efficient.

“Energy efficiency is not about giving anything up but about increasing your quality of life. You can do things better and do more things but with less energy,” Bohlman said.

Since the various projects have been completed, UND has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and by 2050 UND is expected to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by about one-third.

Bohlman said in the last 10 years, the university has had a huge growth of building spaces and students, all while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are on target, which is a good thing,” Bohlman said.

 Ashley Marquis is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].