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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell University will join more than 475 colleges and universities across the country in signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell announced Thursday night, capping the daylong Focus the Nation teach-in. || Audio: Announcement || More Focus the Nation coverage

The commitment represents a pledge to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, to enhance environmental stewardship efforts, and to foster the concepts of sustainability and environmental ethics in the curriculum.

"Bucknell has a long and storied commitment to protecting the natural environment, educating students about related issues, and using our campus as a place where we can not only learn about, but also implement sustainable environmental practices," Mitchell said.

Planning process
The Climate Commitment requires the University to adopt a strategic planning process, including creating an advisory committee, preparing an inventory of emissions, and implementing at least two initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while the overall plan is being developed.

To that end, the University is creating a Campus Greening Council that will bring together students, faculty, and staff. The Bucknell University Environmental Center and its new sustainability coordinator have already completed the first phase of an emissions audit.

In addition, Bucknell will take the following steps to protect the natural environment and reduce the University's ecologic footprint:

  • Consider U.S. Green Building LEED certification for new campus construction costing more than $500,000, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees and consistent with the University’s campus master plan.
  • Purchase Energy Star products that meet the strict efficiency guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Purchase additional alternative fuel vehicles for the campus fleet. The Campus Greening Council will develop programs in which students, staff, and faculty can “borrow” cars and bicycles from the University to reduce the need for personal vehicles on campus.

In addition to continuing to print all stationery on Forest Stewardship Council-certified, chlorine-free paper that contains 100 percent post-consumer fiber content, the University will move toward using council-certified paper in all copiers and printers on campus.

Bucknell will continue its recycling efforts, including participation in the RecycleMania competition. But the Campus Greening Council will study recommendations to improve and expand its recycling programs.

In addition, the University campus master plan under development will:

  • Reduce the amount of asphalt on campus by removing cars and parking from some of the main campus arteries and making the campus more pedestrian friendly.
  • Restore Miller Run, improve storm water runoff and collection, create more natural buffer areas, and recapture access to the Susquehanna River.
  • Call for the creation of an Environmental Center facility that will create a focus for environmental programming and distinguish Bucknell among its peers.

Plans are also under way to create new bike trails linking the campus to neighboring communities, to establish new outdoor leadership programs at the Cowan Center, and to develop a "Bucknell Landing" on campus that will provide access to the Susquehanna River.

Co-generation plant
A decade ago, the University converted its coal-fired power plant to a highly efficient co-generation plant fueled by cleaner-burning natural gas. The plant now generates 95 percent of the electricity consumed on campus and in off-peak times actually distributes electricity to the power grid. It also captures the heat from the combustion process and converts it to steam used to heat much of campus. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from the plant are 45 percent below the pre-1998 level.

All of the electricity the University purchases from outside sources comes from only wind power.

In 1979, Bucknell instituted the major in environmental studies, creating a formal link between academics and environmental activity on campus. Today, through the Common Learning Agenda, every student is required to take at least one course providing a perspective on the natural and fabricated world.

Environmental Center
Given the deepening commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship on local, regional, and global environmental issues, the University established the Bucknell University Environmental Center in 2006. The center coordinates, initiates, and implements environmental programming across campus and includes about 60 faculty members from 19 departments in varied disciplines that are also involved in the study of ecology and the environment.

Mitchell's announcement of the climate commitment and new environmental initiatives capped off a day of events at Bucknell supporting Focus the Nation, a national initiative to raise awareness of climate change issues.

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted Feb. 1, 2008