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Chesapeake College Joins Climate Change Commitment

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Chesapeake College president Barbara Viniar and Greg Farley, director of the Center for Leadership in Environmental Education, celebrate signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. 

WYE MILLS - Chesapeake College is the first community college on the Delmarva Peninsula to commit to a national movement to be carbon neutral. Chesapeake joined more than 660 other colleges and universities when President Barbara Viniar signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

"As a community college, we are the center of the community we serve," Dr. Viniar at the recent signing ceremony. "We have a responsibility to improve what happens around us."

Promoting environmental and economic sustainability are key initiatives in the college’s Strategic Plan, as well as the mission of the new Center for Leadership in Environmental Education (CLEEN) on campus.

A campus sustainability group has been working to reduce the college’s carbon footprint. The president said the college has already scored a 16 percent utility reduction. Small steps such as completely powering down workstations at the end of the day and switching from plastic to paper products in the cafeteria have helped move the college in the right direction. "I’ve wanted to sign this since I got here five years ago, but a president cannot commit to this alone. This kind of commitment take support from the entire institution," she said.

Greg Farley, who is an associate biology professor and director of the Center for Leadership in Environmental Education, said the college has a responsibility to commit to environmental sustainability.

"We need to find ways to work together to benefit the bottom line of the environment, fiscal sustainability and social justice," Farley told the assembled students, staff and community leaders. The signing ceremony and celebration took place a year after the college dedicated its wind turbine.

Farley described the signing as taking "an enormous step toward carbon neutrality."

Chesapeake College, Dr. Viniar said, has already taken the easy steps to reduce its carbon footprint. The institution must now tackle the more difficult tasks. As a commuter school, Chesapeake faces the greatest challenge in cutting emissions from all the vehicles that travel to campus each day. According to recent internal survey, more than 84 percent of students travel to the Wye Mills campus in their cars. The figure is 96 percent for Chesapeake employees.

The president said Chesapeake will develop a complete climate action plan within two years.

"By singing on to this, we are pledging to come up with a plan -with goals and measures-to bring our carbon footprint to zero," Dr. Viniar said. "I’m so pleased to be part of a college that gets it, and that is willing to do all the hard work."

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