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2013 Winter Issue 6 (February 22, 2013)

Carleton a Finalist in Climate Leadership Awards

February 22, 2013
By Ben Strauss

Carleton has two windmills, green wars, sustainable building standards, and a Carbon neutrality goal by 2050.  Now, Carleton has also become a finalist in the competition for the Climate Leadership Award conferred by Second Nature.

The non-profit started the Climate Leadership competition to promote environmental sustainability on college campuses. David Hales, President of Second Nature said, “We need new and better ways of meeting human needs, and these twenty institutions are leading the way in creating - and teaching - sustainable solutions to the major economic and social issues of our time.”

The Climate Leadership Award also encourages cooperation among schools. “I think it’s great that there are competitions like the Climate Leadership Award to promote sustainability initiatives at campuses across the country, enable college campuses to learn from our peers, and encourage communication between schools,” said Alex Lai ’13, Sustainability Assistant.

While Carleton placed in the finals last year as well, Carleton’s finalist status deserves even more commendation this year due to the tough competition. “The caliber of this year’s nominations is unparalleled. The depth of climate leadership and the breadth of sustainability education programs demonstrated by these finalists reflect their commitment to truly innovative solutions for a sustainable future,” said American College and University President’s Climate Commitment Director Ashka Naik.

Carleton has made substantial improvements to sustainability in recent years. “[Carleton has] a really wide range of initiatives - from streamlining waste collection and expanding compost, to working with Bon Appetit to procure more real food, to installing light timers and sensors in stairwells, to integrating sustainable building standards in new facilities,” said Lai.

For example, the second windmill provides significant environmental benefits. “Our primary achievement was installation of the second wind turbine which provides twenty-five to thirty percent of our annual electricity,” said Larson.

In addition, Carleton has increased transparency on some environmental issues, though it still lacks transparency on others. “...Carleton has recently made a profile on buildingdashboard.net, a system that monitors the energy consumption of the buildings on campus, that is available to everyone.  However…students are now banding together to urge the college to bring transparency to its endowment through a divestment campaign,” said Tori Ostenso ’15, Sustainability Assisstant.

Still, Carleton needs to do much more work to achieve sustainability. “In terms of Carleton “achieving sustainability” I think we have a long way to go.  We have two windmills, which is a great start, but we still need to make our campus more efficient.  This means changing student practices concerning energy use as well as installing newer, more efficient appliances,” said Sarah Lukins, STA.

“Carleton deserves the climate leadership award because it has truly demonstrated its commitment to sustainability and the climate action plan through its two eye-catching wind turbines, Green Wars (an annual week-long effort to reduce energy consumption on campus in the dead of winter), and support of grassroots student initiatives through the Sustainability Assistant work study positions,” said Tori.

Sustainability Assistants (STAs), help reduce Carleton’s environmental impact and help Carleton achieve Carbon neutrality. “The STAs are Carleton’s “sustainability staff.”   Their work-study positions are dedicated to furthering progress on the numerous individual initiatives that keep Carleton as a whole moving toward its carbon neutral goal,” said Larson.

Finally, most important in its environmental goals is the enthusiasm of everyone involved at Carleton. “…from our windmills to our Green Wars to (most of all!) the energy and passion our students, faculty and staff regularly bring to reducing our carbon footprint, Carls and Carleton are stepping forward to address what I think is one of the defining issues of our time,” said Steven Poskanzer, Carleton President.

In order to win the Climate Leadership Award, Carleton must produce a video showcasing its sustainability efforts.  “We need to submit an online video with the other finalists and those videos then go up for public vote.  The school with the most votes wins…,” said Larson.

“…students, staff, alumni, friends...anyone with internet access can vote.  We hope to get a good outpouring of support,” said Larson.

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