Nov. 12, 2015
Dear Mr. President:
As institutions of higher education, we applaud the progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action as we seek a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. Although we are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low-carbon future, we recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community‘s economic prosperity and public health. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campuses.
We put forth our pledges as follows:
As a signatory in one of Second Nature’s three Climate Leadership Commitments, Goshen College is part of a robust network of over 600 college and university presidents and chancellors who have committed their institutions to take bold and catalytic climate actions. These Climate Leadership Commitments are a key driving force for transformative change on our campus.
In the spring of 2007, Goshen College President James E. Brenneman became a charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Through this commitment, Goshen College has pledged to neutralize greenhouse gases at which point carbon dioxide emissions produced by Goshen College-related activities are offset by three means:
1) Reduction through conservation;
2) Use of renewable sources of energy; and
3) Increased sequestration through the absorption of carbon dioxide by trees and other plants.
In the seven years since Brenneman signed the Climate Commitment, Goshen College has made significant strides towards the goals set forth in the previous Climate Action Plan including:
- Purchasing all electricity from renewable energy sources;
- Installing a solar-powered water heater in the Recreation Fitness Center showers;
- Converting approximately 10 acres of campus lawn to native grasses;
- Installing a geo-thermal heating/cooling system to replace old system
- Implementing a student-run composting system in the school dining hall;
- Upgrading all desktop computers to low power Apple Mac Minis;
- Converting all outdoor lights to CFLs and LEDs; and
- Receiving a silver rating through AASHE’s STARS program.
Goshen College is planning to continue to reduce and eventually eliminate or mitigate all of its global-warming emissions. To help stabilize the earth’s climate, the college is supporting research, implementation, and educational efforts outlined in this document.
Comprehensive Ecological Classroom: Merry Lea Environmental Center of Goshen College
Goshen College owns and operates the Merry Lea Environmental Center, which is a nature sanctuary located near Wolf Lake, Indiana. Most of the habitats found in northeastern Indiana are present in the
1,189 acres of Merry Lea. Observable management practices include wetland, prairie, and savanna restorations, as well as sustainable agriculture. A vigorous educational program interprets the significant biological and geological features. This unique property offers Goshen College the opportunity to educate students at all levels through a true exploratory learning classroom by:
- Providing a natural sanctuary for northern Indiana’s plants and animals •
- Providing a living laboratory for environmental architecture (first platinum LEED buildings in mid-
West and sustainable energy production (solar and wind)
- Providing environmental education for people of all ages
- Providing a setting for re-creating opportunities that benefit the human body and spirit while not exploiting the land or excessively disturbing its ecosystems
- The Sustainability Leadership Semester – an interdisciplinary fall semester program offered at
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.
See http://merrylea.goshen.edu/ for more information on this ecologically sensitive center, including information on its platinum LEED certified Reith Village facilities. http://merrylea.goshen. edu/sustainable buildings/rieth-village.
Education, Research, and Public Engagement
The goal of campus education at Goshen College is that both the formal academic curriculum and also informal campus teaching opportunities will develop knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that promote ecological stewardship and sustainability. Both undergraduate and graduate programs offer opportunities for education and research.
Undergraduate academic programs
- Environmental Science major and minor
- Sustainability Leadership Semester
- General education coursework in sustainability for all students
Undergraduate research opportunities
Research opportunities in ecological stewardship are offered each summer through the Maple Scholars program. The Maple Scholars program is an intensive summer research program in which a student works very closely with a faculty member on a research project within the faculty member’s field of specialty. In addition, field biology courses and special research opportunities are available each semester:
- M.A. in environmental education
Goshen College has recognized that the most effective way to reduce our institutional carbon footprint is through the reduction of our natural gas (Scope 1) and electrical (Scope 2) consumption. These two energy sources represent nearly 80% of our carbon footprint. Numerous mechanical and building envelope improvements have been implemented in our buildings, along with lighting conversions and installation of motion detectors and timers and installation of a geo thermal heating and cooling system for a major part of campus. Intense utilization of our computerized energy management system to schedule offices and classrooms and strategically operate our HVAC systems have also been a big part of our strategy to reduce energy consumption.
The results have been impressive. Since 2006, our natural gas consumption has been reduced by 14%, our electrical consumption by 39%, for an overall energy reduction of 29%. Compared to 1991 consumption, natural gas usage is 16% lower and our electrical usage is 5% lower even though our square footage of building spaces have increased by 62%. This translates into a 46% reduction of our EUI (Energy Use Intensity) from 114 MBTU/Sq Ft/yr to 62 MBTU/Sq Ft/Yr.
Goshen College’s experience over the past 25 years shows that significant energy reductions are quite obtainable on modern campuses. It requires institutional commitment, good utilization of modern technology, and trained staff to be looking for efficiencies and putting them into practice.
As a charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Goshen College pledges to continue its ongoing efforts to completely neutralize our campus’ greenhouse gas emissions. We recognize this is a journey that requires commitment, a focus on interdisciplinary learning, collaboration with others and a sense of urgency. We are committed to this ongoing effort as part of the community of higher education institutions that have demonstrated practical and achievable outcomes.
Jim Brenneman, President, Goshen College