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Spring 2010

Trinity Reporter Spring 2010
along the walk
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Energy Tune-up
Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

blue gold and greenIn its effort to comply with the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which President Jones signed in 2007, Trinity has submitted a Climate Action Plan designed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by half by the middle of the 21st century.

Trinity is one of 666 signatories of the ACUPCC and, as such, was required to submit a comprehensive Climate Action Plan in January.

Karen Misbach, environmental health and safety manager and sustainability coordinator, took the lead in crafting the action blueprint, with assistance from the College’s Climate Action Plan Committee and Sustainability Task Force.

Because of economic and financial uncertainties and new energy technologies that are likely to emerge in coming years—many of which are anticipated to make it easier to achieve carbon neutrality—Trinity’s plan does not specify a date for achieving a 100-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
However, “as technologies are developed, we will be reviewing our plan every other year to see what’s achievable,” Misbach says.

The blueprint lays out short-term goals (what can be done within the next three years); mid-term goals (4 to 10 years); and long-term goals (more than 10 years).

Misbach says that some of the College’s top priorities are to “tune up buildings” for greater energy savings, ban electricity-guzzling space heaters, persuade building occupants to close windows so that heating and cooling systems work more efficiently, install occupancy sensors, monitor electricity usage by using metering devices, and identify inefficiencies associated with the College’s food services.

Other steps that may be taken include using infrared thermography to locate where heat is being lost in buildings, replacing windows that are improperly installed, and applying a glaze to large windows.
Most of the items that can be accomplished over the short-term are less costly than the long-term strategies, one of which would be to build a cogeneration plant. Schools that have built cogeneration plants have dramatically reduced their carbon footprint.

Before the Climate Action Plan was filed, actions that Trinity agreed to included establishing a policy that all new campus construction will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard and adopting an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring the acquisition of ENERGY STAR-certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist. To that end, Trinity has authorized the hiring of a procurement official whose job it will be to oversee all purchasing for the College.

“Right now, we have no watchdog to make sure that everybody buys energy-rated products,” said Misbach.
Other steps will be explored, as well. For example, one proposal is to have the staff work a four-day week during the summer, thus saving the greenhouse gas emissions that are produced by people commuting to campus for half-day Fridays.

Additional ideas in the area of transportation include encouraging the use of buses and carpooling; subsidizing bus passes for students, staff, and faculty; expanding the Zip Car program; instituting a bicycle-sharing program; and switching more campus vehicles to hybrids.

“The last piece,” says Misbach, “is incorporating education and behavioral change into Trinity’s curriculum.” Regarding behavioral attitudes, “if we don’t give people the data, they won’t have the knowledge they need to effect change.”

Overall, the goals outlined in Trinity’s Climate Action Plan are to reduce the College’s greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2020, by 20 percent by 2030, and by 50 percent by 2050.
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