BGSU rallies for clean energy
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Friday, 22 March 2013 09:38
Environmental activists are giving Bowling Green State University seven years to clean up its act.
|BGSU sophomore Jessica Echales speaks into a megaphone during an environmental rally on the campus of Bowling Green State University. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Holding cardboard versions of wind turbines and solar panels, students rallied outside BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey's office Thursday. Next week, they hope to take their concerns inside and meet directly with Mazey.
The BGSU Environmental Action Group is asking BGSU to create and implement a plan to transition to 100 percent clean energy, such as wind, solar and geothermal by 2020.
"We need action now," Josh Chamberland, president of the group, shouted to ralliers. "We are building a movement here at BGSU."
But the movement has already started, according to Dave Kielmeyer, BGSU spokesman, who said the university has signed onto a climate control commitment which shares many of the goals sought by the student group.
"BGSU has made a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint," he said.
Last October, Mazey signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment along with many universities across the nation. The agreement commits BGSU to becoming "carbon neutral" by a date that has not yet been determined.
"The goals are extremely similar," said Nick Hennessey, BGSU sustainability coordinator.
The university has three years to come up with a plan for carbon neutrality. "We are currently in the process of figuring out what's going to be in our plan," Hennessey said.
While that may not mean the 100 percent use of clean energy, it will seek a balance.
And while BGSU may not meet the students' demand for clean energy by 2020, Hennessey said the university is making progress.
"I think quite a bit can be achieved by then," he said.
The movement toward clean energy has already been a focus at other universities, according to Dr. Neocles Leontis, BGSU chemistry professor.
Miami University, Ohio State University and Ball State University are already working on geothermal projects to power their facilities, he said.
|BGSU freshman Amber Perdue fills out a petition during an environmental rally on the campus of Bowling Green State University.
"Unless we attack the heating and cooling on our campus, we're only making incremental changes," he said.
Leontis suggested to ralliers that they use the BGSU student environmental fund to pay for a geothermal study on campus.
"You have the power to take the first step in geothermal," he said. "We need to do the study and find out if it's doable. It's in your power to do it. Go for it."
Though the rally was attended by approximately 40 people, the clean energy cause does have a bigger following on campus. According to Amber Perdue, of the Environmental Action Group, more than 2,000 students have signed a petition asking for a conversion to clean energy.
Madison Thomas, a junior majoring in environmental science, said BGSU should not delay going more green.
"Climate change is happening right in front of us," she said. Meanwhile, BGSU buys its electricity from Bowling Green, which recently invested through AMP cooperative in a coal-fired power plant.
"Is that really what we want our university to invest in," Thomas asked.
The solution is renewable wind, solar and geothermal energy, she said. "This seems like a no-brainer to me."
But Hennessey said BGSU has little control over where its electricity is generated.
"There's not a lot of leeway where the power comes from," he said, adding that the city of Bowling Green is taking several steps to expand its power from green energy.
BGSU is also looking at other ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The short-term goals of the energy agreement signed by Mazey call for the university to reduce waste immediately by examining how to recycle more and use landfills less. All new buildings will qualify for energy and environmental design rankings. New appliances must have energy star ratings. And expansion of BGSU bus transportation will be studied.
"All of these are aimed at reducing emissions," Hennessey said.
Hennessey said he realizes the student environmental group is asking for more use of clean energy.
"We're going to examine all of those possible sources of energy for BGSU," he said.
But paying for the transition has to be a part of the equation.
"We have to constantly be on the lookout for how we finance these things," Hennessey said.
BGSU has also adopted these environmentally friendly programs:
• Green fee (optional) that students pay to support green initiatives
• Project Tiger requiring computer labs to use 100 percent recycled paper
• Print Responsibly effort encouraging two sided printing, and less printing
• Orange Bike program for sharing bicycles
• Participating in "recyclemania" competition with other colleges and universities.
Last Updated on Friday, 22 March 2013 12:48