SF State moves toward climate neutrality
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SF State President Robert Corrigan joined hundreds of college and university officals this fall in committing to reduce SF State's greenhouse gas emissions and eventually make it "climate neutral," though the university may not take its first steps until next semester.

A 10-person sustainability action committee was proposed to the Academic Senate in November, but it has not yet been officially considered, said Carlos Davidson, director and associate professor of environmental studies.

The senate may vote on a resolution to create the committee on Dec. 11, its final meeting this semester, or it may want more time to mull it over and discuss it next semester, he said.

The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment has more than 400 signatories from around the country, including the entire University of California system and five California State Universities.

By signing this commitment, a chancellor or president pledges to gradually neutralize their campus' impact on global warming through a multi-step process. The ultimate goal is achieving climate neutrality by reducing the campus' greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and countering remains with carbon offsets and similar alternatives, according to the ACUPCC’s Web site.

The steps include creating a “committee or institutional structure” of students, faculty and staff within two months of signing, completing an inventory of campus emissions within a year and drafting an actionable plan within two years. Corrigan signed the document by Sept. 15, the date considered the benchmark from which SF State would measure progress toward each step.

Even if the committee must wait until the spring, Davidson commended Corrigan for signing the commitment.

"It's wonderful to work for an institution that recognizes climate change at the highest level," he said.

Davidson said he will teach a new environmental studies class in the spring designed to help meet the commitment's challenge. Called Campus Sustainability (ENVS 570 in the class schedule), he and Robert Hutson, associate vice president of facilities and SF State’s liaison for the commitment, will teach students how to measure the university's greenhouse gas emissions. The results of the class will effectively create a campus inventory of emissions in time to satisfy the ACUPCC's deadline, Davidson said.

Neither Corrigan nor Hutson answered requests for comment. A two-month progress report completed by Hutson and available on the ACUPCC’s Web site, however, states that “a Campus Sustainability Committee was formed in FY 07/08 to develop a university-wide culture of stainability [sic] and to advance sustainability initiatives with a cohesive focus.”

The report also claims SF State completed four "tangible actions," of which the ACUPCC asked the university to accomplish at least two by Nov. 15. All four actions cited, however, reflect policy that existed before signing the commitment.

The university—along with all other CSUs—already requires that all new campus construction be in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver standard or equivalent. It also already purchases at least 15 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources (SF State's contract with energy supplier Arizona Power Services requires the minimum be 20 percent), encourages and provides access to public transportation (mainly by connecting the campus to Bay Area Rapid Transit via the daily shuttle) and diverts a relatively high percentage of campus waste (65 percent during the last fiscal year), the report states.

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