Report Identifies Opportunities to be More Sustainable

The Center for a Sustainable Society releases its semiannual report, noting recent efforts and new opportunities in Pacific's goal of sustainability.

Replacing antiquated boilers in older buildings could help cut Pacific University’s carbon footprint, according to a report by the university’s Center for a Sustainable Society. 

The center issued its semiannual report this month, listing key findings and activities in its first six months of work toward its goal of making the university more sustainable.

One of the first priorities is a calculation of the university’s carbon footprint. That includes some straightforward measures: direct greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from natural gas combustion to heat buildings, and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from the production of electricity that the university purchases. It also includes more complex figures, such as the environmental impact of commuter travel or the production and transportation of goods purchased by the university.

The complex calculations are just beginning and are likely to take several months. The easier ones, though, are complete — and they provide a glimpse of the opportunities Pacific has to improve its sustainability.

The good news is that some 80 percent of Pacific’s purchased electricity already comes from renewable sources, such as hydroelectric and wind. That means that one segment of the university’s carbon footprint is pretty low.

On the other hand, direct emissions on Pacific’s campuses — particularly the older Forest Grove Campus — are pretty high. And therein lies an opportunity, according to the report. The current boiler in Marsh Hall, for example, operates at only 65 percent efficiency, compared to more modern units, which typically operate at 98 percent efficiency, the report says.

The center is working with Energy Trust of Oregon on an incentive program that would help decrease the cost of replacing the less efficient equipment, and it’s working to identify the return-on-investment for such potential upgrades.

Meanwhile, it also is exploring the opportunities to replace exterior lighting with more efficient LEDs to decrease some energy use.

The report also highlights other university efforts around sustainability, such as renewal of an employee-led effort to “green” offices with new purchasing policies; the addition of Zipcars on campus, coming in early February; and participation and leadership in community discussions around regional sustainability.

In addition, the report notes, Pacific recently became a signatory institution on the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and, last February, earned a bronze rating for its first-time participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education STARS rating program.

Posted by Jenni Luckett ( on Jan 23, 2013 at 4:08 PM

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