Merging the topic of energy and savings The Weber State Story of Sustainability

The changing climate is a concerning problem for many Utah organizations and there is a perception that taking measures to face such problems will cost greatly. However, smart organizations who face these challenges directly can turn them into opportunities.

Weber State University is one Utah institution that is embracing the challenges climate change imposes. By recognizing its impact and taking action against it, Weber State is creating better opportunities for not only itself but its students, faculty, community members and future generations to grow and prosper-even with the challenges ahead.

THE STORY STARTS HERE . . .

In 2007, President Ann Millner signed on to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to become carbon neutral by 2050.

In 2009, the Weber State University Climate Action Plan was then signed which officially committed WSU to take action in reducing its carbon footprint.

Since 2009, Weber State University is on track to beat the 2050 carbon neutral goal by almost a decade.

Taken from: Weber State University Climate Action Plan FY2015
HERE IS HOW THE WILDCATS ARE DOING IT.

Weber State University is a leading Utah school in sustainability as it is turning the would-be problems of climate change into innovations that are generating profitable opportunities.

Clean energy is one of those profitable investment that Weber State is finding very much worthwhile. However, the first investment, and the most rewarding investment, WSU has made on the journey to sustainability is the revolving energy/water fund.

As the Weber State University Climate Action Plan outlines, the revolving energy/water fund was created by WSU essentially investing in its own resources ($5million) and then the savings from the projects funded would then go back into the fund for more sustainable energy and water projects.

Through these funds, WSU has been able to create and expand the Energy and Sustainability office through facility management to design and implement the projects and programs that will get Weber State University to that carbon neutral goal and overall achieve sustainability.

So far, in just the 2016 fiscal year on its own , WSU has been able to save nearly $1.8million in utility costs alone and fund several other sustainable projects on campus.

Taken from the most updated reports: Weber State University Climate Action Plan FY2016

The Projects

Upgrading Infrastructure: LED lighting in the DEE event center, Building green buildings (LEED Certified), and upgrading older buildings.
By simply updating older and less efficient lighting and utility systems, WSU has reduced its impact in emissions by 32% since 2007!
Energy Projects: Solar panels on Ogden campus buildings, the Davis campus solar grid, the geothermal wells, and investments in the BlueSky program.
Commuter emissions (scope 3): WSU Idle free campaign, Drive Electric Utah, Student UTA Pass and the 650 “fast bus”.
Education and Outreach: The teams that are pushing the campus in the direction of sustainability.

SPARC is Weber State University's research hub designed to connect campus activities, programs, departments, and community partners toward the advancement of sustainability in the region.

The Intermountain Sustainability Summit is a two day conference in which people from all over the community, state and the western United States region come together to learn, connect, network and discuss sustainability and implement sustainability in every part of their lives.

The EIC is Weber State's own informative entity for which University policy makers look to when discussing sustainability and the environment.

This committee is made up of professors, sustainability staff, administrative members as well as key student sustainability groups-all of which help bring information on the best practices for economic and environmental sustainability at WSU.

The EIC also educates interdisciplinary, critical thinking and problem solving tools for climate change related problems and sustainability curriculum to the classrooms of WSU so when students graduate they are prepared to take on and solve challenges in their communities and beyond.

Environmental Ambassadors- Student led sustainability engagement and advocacy.

The Environmental Ambassadors (EA) is a peer to peer educational outreach program that is focused on creating a sustainable campus community.

EA has facilitated and continues to create many projects to educate about and promote sustainability on campus in order to create a campus culture that is for the environment and sustainability.

A future to have pride in...
What WSU is doing is something we all can achieve.

When President Ann Millner signed to adopt the Climate Action Plan, she and other university members understood the threat of climate change. Through that understanding, Weber State University as an institution has found that sustainable practices and clean energy is a profitable investment very much worthwhile. By adopting sustainable practices and switching to clean energy, Weber State University has saved millions of dollars and has been able to improve their bottom line. However, Weber State University is just one example of how institutions can benefit from investing in sustainability and a clean energy future.

What WSU is doing is something we all can achieve. We can have locally-made energy that is lets us have clean air and healthy water. We can have savings on energy bills and create a strong community with opportunities. The more people and institutions that take advantage of clean energy and sustainable practices the more we all can benefit from better health, money savings, and a better future for ourselves, our family, and our community.

Weber State's Story is empowering because it spreads hope of a better future with the proof that we can not only survive climate change but come out on the other side stronger and better than before.
A community with sustainable solutions is a community we can have pride in because we chose to make it a strong and safe home for our families, children and future generations.

Sources:

I also took a some information and pictures from Jenn Bodine's presentation on April 17th, 2017 as I have access to it.

Credits:

Created with images by WeAppU - "lynx animal cat"

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