FSU updates Climate Action Plan

By Kate Shane

Staff Writer

This year, FSU amended its Climate Action Plan (CAP), which is geared toward creating a sustainable environment.

The plan was created after former Gov. Deval Patrick issued Executive Order No. 484 in April 2007, which mandated a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and energy consumption.

In May 2007, the University joined the American College and University President’s Climate Action Commitment, which aims to eliminate carbon emissions from college campuses.

Warren Fairbanks, associate vice president of facilities and capital planning, assisted in authoring the plan.

According to Fairbanks, The Princeton Review lists FSU as a green college. The company defines a green college as one that “show[s] a strong commitment to sustainable practices.”

Carl Hakansson, associate professor of geography and university sustainability coordinator, assisted in authoring the Climate Action Plan, which has 15 major action points.

“It doesn’t get very much attention. It comes as a surprise that we actually have a Climate Action Plan,” said Hakansson.

The plan aims to promote energy efficiency on campus, according to Hakansson. The University’s power plant was converted from oil to natural gas in order to reduce the institutions carbon footprint. The conversion reduced GHG emissions. Natural gas emits less CO2 than oil.

The change in fuel type increases energy efficiency and fulfills Action Point No. 1 of the plan, Hakansson said.

“Some people see climate change as beyond their control,” said Hakansson. Students who become involved with CAP will have a better understanding of climate change and what they can do to help.

Action points 3 and 10 cover transportation. Hakansson said a change in commuting habits may reduce the amount of CO2 emitted. The University plans to use the 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. class slot to reduce the number of trips commuters take to campus each day. Additionally, more online and hybrid courses would help make this possible.

Action Point No. 4 addresses making old buildings on campus energy efficient. New buildings will be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards. West Hall is LEED gold and Hemenway Laboratories is LEED silver, Fairbanks said.

“There’s a monetary benefit for us to be efficient” as well as a “social benefit,” according to Fairbanks. When GHG emissions are reduced on campus, FSU is “doing our part to decrease global warming.”

Dale Hamel, executive vice president and co-author of the CAP, said investments such as the power plant conversion and solar panels “reduce cost in the long run even though there is a large up-front cost of those investments,” said Hamel.

He added, “We’ve accomplished a lot of the capital projects. The most significant project was the conversion of the power plant. It was a large expenditure that we received funding from the commonwealth,” said Hamel.

According to the CAP, the University received a $2.7 million grant for the conversion of the power plant. Construction was completed on March 1, 2016.

Hakansson said Sodexo partnered with the University to fulfill Action Point No. 5 to make dining services energy efficient. Dining services aims to avoid food vendors that emit a significant amount of GHGs. They also accommodate composting.

He added the Green Team, a club he advises, acts as “the student arm of implementation” for CAP.

Paolo Bon Tempo, a senior and president of the Green Team, said the team seeks to “engage with other students through education and dialogue on various environmental topics, as well as engaging in activism and hands-on activities to better the natural environment at FSU.”

The team works closely with administrators on Action Point No. 12 to make the campus more eco-friendly. They organize days to rake leaves in order to eliminate exhaust from leaf blowers. They also plant wildflowers to decrease the use of lawn mowers and gasoline, Hakansson said.

He added, “Think locally, act globally.”