Monday, December 5, 2011

In conclusion...

Its been ten weeks since I started researching the greenliness of Rutgers University. Ten weeks ago I thought I'd discover some vastly differernt things than what I did about the weight of the carbon footprint my school has on this Earth. I thought I'd find that Rutgers was using "going green" as a way to get good PR. I thought I'd discover that Rutgers was using green initiatives like the solar farm to make it seem like they were really trying to reduce their impact on the environment. I suppose I just expected the worst of my school. I know I'm not the only person who felt the same. I figured what kind of institution would Rutgers be if it weren't corrupt and sinister? When I pitched a similar story idea to one of my classes at the start of this semester, pretty much everyone in my class thought the same as me. One boy in particular felt that the initiative by Rutgers to be more environmentally friendly was completely bogus. He basically made fun of the idea of Rutgers really trying to do anything positive for their environment. I'm really happy to have learned the opposite.

So heres what I think. I think that Rutgers has proven that they're making a conscious effort to become a greener university. They're proven this not just to me, but to various organizations in our nation. For example, Andrew Bellina of the U.S. EPA (who signed the MOU with Rutgers) told me in an interview "You know, Rutgers is doing a really great thing. They've set an example for other MOU's that we've signed. They've come the farthest and done the most out of all the MOU agreements we've made. We signed an MOU with the Giants and the Jets for their new stadium. Guess what? We use Rutgers as an example of what they should be doing." According to Michael Kornitas, Rutgers has recieved a Sustainable Endowment from the government, with a B rating in buildings and an A rating in energy conservation.

In the most recent MOU released on November 4, it said "Just as climate change cannot be mitigated by one community acting on its own, these goals can only be accomplished through the cooperation of experts from the natural, social, and political sciences. The Climate and Environmental Change Initiative is therefore a multidisciplinary research, education, and outreach effort that draws from the strengths in many departments at Rutgers and facilities collaboration across a broad range of disciplines from oceanography to sociology and from ecology to economics." Since signing the MOU, Rutgers has saved 136,471 MTCO2e. That is the equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of 15,299,473 gallons of gasoline. To put that into perspective, Rutgers has reduced their greenhouse gas emissions to the equivalent of taking 26,759 standard vehicles that drive 12,000 miles each year off of the road permanently.

"Theres always going to be alot more to do," said Antonio Calcado. "We can't spend all the money Rutgers has on greenerness and fix every problem all at once. We do what we can when we can. Thats alot more than other universities can say for themselves." And I really agree. Rutgers is actually DOING something to go green. They're trying as best as they can. They even stopped mowing full fields in order to allow the local flora to grow in. If thats not fundamentally creating a greener environment at Rutgers then I don't know what is. I've got to admit that I'm proud of the things Rutgers has done to go green.

"One thing we really need to work on is student involvement," Kornitas said. In my interview with Kornitas, he stressed that students simply don't know or understand how much of an effort Rutgers is making to go green. "I try to help. I do powerpoints and I try to get students involved. We had that solar decathalon. We made a solar house. I was on the team. Its not enough though for just a few students to be involved here and there. We need a conscientious effort from the entire body of this school, which is our students." There are a number of student groups out there currently working to go green. To name a few, there is the Environmental Society, Food and Water Watch, Energy Service Corps, Waterwatch, Environment N.J., and the Energy Club. These groups make various initiatives inside and outside of the university to make an environmental difference, and in many cases they do. For example, Food and Water Watch sponsored recently an anti-hyrofracking campaign on campus to combat the possibiliy of hydrofracking in the Delaware Water Gap. But to make Rutgers truly sustainable, more than just a few student groups need to get informed and involved.

So thank you, Rutgers, for trying as hard as you do. We're a better, greener place for it.