Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Five Year Plan to Make U Green!

In my last post, I mentioned that Rutgers signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rutgers on November 3rd of 2009. That sounds really great, you know? Rutgers signed a contract to be more green. But I got to thinking. What does Rutgers have to gain from signing a five-year-long contract with the U.S. EPA? Why commit themselves to going green?

Rutgers must have known that an undertaking like this would be costly. Green appliances, green technology, etc. etc. They probably considered that maybe not everyone would like the changes they made or will make in the five year contract. And what's the benefit for Rutgers? They wouldn't take on a goal so massive for no reason, right? What does the university (and its students) get for agreeing to be greener five years from now (besides some good PR)?

Well, according to Andrew Bellina, the Senior Policy Advisor at the EPA of the memorandum with Rutgers, the university doesn't get anything at all but advice. The EPA gives the university some tips, and it's up to Rutgers to act on them or not.

In an interview, I asked Bellina to answer some of the questions I just asked you, reader. He said that while there are no direct and tangible benefits of signing the MOU, meaning Rutgers isn't paying the EPA to help them become green and the EPA doesn't give the university anything besides advice, the sustained benefits socially, economically, and most of all environmentally from having greener campuses are the goal here.

Heres how it works. Some analysts from the EPA come to Rutgers and assess for free the greenliness of the university in a number of areas. They call them "campaigns" or "programs" and they are formulated by the EPA to minimize as much as possible the carbon footprint the university has on the Earth. They include The National Clean Diesel Campaign, The Clean Construction USA campaign, Transportation and Commuter Programs, The EPA Waste Wise Program and Recycling Achievements, the LEED Silver program, a cleaner cleaning products campaign, an Energy Efficient Equipment and Energy Star Program, an Alternative Energy Program, new storm water and turf management practices, new industrial material reuse practices, and aPest Management program.

EPA analysts come to the univeristy and leave behind a set of instructions. Rutgers can choose whether or not they want to abide by those instruction. According to Bellina, "We provide a baseline assessment of energy output. They determine the base load of where energy generation occurs. The assessments help determine how to reduce this output and how energy generation and use can be done more efficiently." Six months pass and Rutgers submits a report to the EPA, and analysts at the EPA can then determine a total carbon footprint of the university. Another six months go by, and the univesity reports again. This way, the EPA keeps ontop of the accomplishments Rutgers has made and can encourage them to take more steps to reducing their footprint on the Earth.


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