Climate commitment earns Ball State national award from college presidents

Topics: Sustainability/Environment, President

October 14, 2010

Ball State's excellence in effecting environmental change has been recognized nationally with the Oct. 13 awarding of the 2010 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award to President Jo Ann M. Gora. The ceremony took place as part of the fourth annual Climate Leadership Summit of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), convened this year in Denver.

Gora, a charter signatory to the ACUPCC and a member of the group's leadership circle, accepted the award on behalf of Ball State, which earned the honor in the doctorate-granting university category. The Second Nature awards recognize the best examples of how institutions of higher education are shifting behavior on campus and within communities to make a low-carbon economy possible, as demonstrated by the actions of senior leadership, academic opportunities and research projects as well as innovative strategies and financing.

The award citation refers, specifically, to Ball State's installation of a ground-source geothermal heating and cooling system and the effect it will have eliminating the use of four existing coal-fired boilers, reducing yearly carbon dioxide emissions by 85,000 tons while also saving $2 million in net fuel costs per year.

Also recognized were Ball State's university-wide cluster of minors in sustainable practices and WISER classification tool to identify core courses that meet sustainability-education criteria, as well as programs such as the "Green"-for-Green summer workshop that promotes and facilitates the inclusion of environmental issues in teaching, research and service. To date, the program has enrolled fully one-fourth of tenured and tenure-track faculty, according to Robert Koester, professor of architecture and director of the Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES), who accompanied Gora at the summit.

"We have made great effort and invested considerable resources through the years to make Ball State a 'greener' campus," said Gora. "Our geothermal project is the largest and therefore, perhaps, most visible example of that commitment. But the unassuming all-electric vehicle we use now to distribute our campus mail is no less important. Each demonstrates the boldness of our thinking — in terms large and small — about lessening Ball State's environmental impact and encouraging others to do the same. We appreciate Second Nature and the other members of the ACUPCC recognizing all of that good work with this award." 

Believing the nation's colleges and universities have a unique responsibility as role models for their communities and in educating the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming, the ACUPCC provides a framework and support for institutions to implement comprehensive plans in pursuit of climate neutrality.

Participating ACUPCC institutions have agreed to complete an emissions inventory and, while taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions, establish within two years a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral. They also pledge to integrate sustainability into the curriculum and make it part of the educational experience.

In so doing, the more than 685 college and university presidents and chancellors who have signed the climate commitment are convinced that higher education can play a leading role in addressing climate disruption, stabilizing and reducing long-term energy costs.

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