Evergreen President Commits to 'Climate Neutral' Campus

June 12, 2007

Purce Joins Higher Education Leaders Nationwide to Fight Global Warming

Olympia, Wash. - The Evergreen State College President Thomas L. " Les" Purce today joined over 250 other college and university presidents in formally committing to sharply reduce and eventually eliminate all of the college's global warming emissions. President Purce also pledged to accelerate research and educational efforts to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate. The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment was adopted today at a summit of higher education leaders in Washington, D.C. President Purce is a founding member of the Steering Committee for this national initiative.

"Since 1971, Evergreen has built a national reputation for environmental studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels," Purce explained. " Its graduates and faculty are leaders in addressing environmental challenges locally, nationally and globally. By joining the Presidents Climate Commitment, and building sustainability into our strategic plan as a top priority, we are sharpening our focus on climate issues and environmental responsibility. We hope to set an example others can follow."Evergreen has set a goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2020 and is developing an institutional action plan to achieve that goal. As part of the plan, Evergreen has completed its first comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory to establish a baseline and help track progress.

Evergreen has a long list of activities and initiatives already underway to promote environmental, social and economic sustainability (see below). For example, thanks to a self-imposed student fee, 100% of Evergreen' s electricity comes from "green" sources. Evergreen also built the state's first public L.E.E.D. gold certified building-Seminar II - with a wide range of energy efficient and environmentally friendly design features.

"Sustainability isn't just a bandwagon we're hopping onto," Purce emphasized." It's woven into the very fabric of our identity, and history, as an institution."

The Presidents Climate Commitment is the first such effort by any major sector of society to set climate neutrality - not just a reduction - as its target. This undertaking by America's colleges and universities is inspired by efforts like the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and other collective efforts by states and businesses.

"Colleges and universities must lead the effort to reverse global warming for the health and well-being of current and future generations," said Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University and chair of the ACUPCC Steering Committee.

The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate. Under the guidance and direction of university presidents, the Commitment is being supported and implemented by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Second Nature, and ecoAmerica.

Learn more at: www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

Sustainability at The Evergreen State College

Since 1971, The Evergreen State College has been a leader in environmental education.  In recent years, the college has stepped up its commitment to sustainability to reach beyond the classroom and even the campus.  Here are just a few examples of Evergreen’s wide ranging sustainability initiatives. 

Planning and Leadership

  • Evergreen built sustainability into its updated strategic plan as a specific strategic direction for the next several years. www.evergreen.edu/president/docs/strategicplanup07.pdf
  • It has an active Sustainability Task Force to work within the college to research and inform college decision making related to sustainability.  http://www.evergreen.edu/sustainability/
  • It is moving its Sustainability Coordinator position from part-time to full-time in the coming year. 
  • It has signed onto the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and has established an initial goal of being carbon neutral by 2020.  As part of that commitment, it has completed its first greenhouse gas inventory.
  • Evergreen is actively planning activities leading up to the Focus the Nation (global warming awareness) events in January 2008.
  • Evergreen served as host for the regional E3 Washington (Education, Environment, Economy) summit, a statewide initiative to address environmental issues.  www.e3washington.org/

Academics, Education and Student Activities

  • Evergreen offers a robust undergraduate program in environmental studies www.evergreen.edu/catalog/2007-08/planningunits/env.htm as well as a Master in Environmental Studies www.evergreen.edu/mes/history.htm. For over 25 years, Evergreen has offered full-time interdisciplinary programs in energy studies, environmental design, and ecological agriculture.
  • Synergy Sustainable Living Conference – An annual, student-driven event to build awareness of sustainability issues – ecological, social, economic – and practices. www.evergreen.edu/events/synergy/
  • Curriculum for the Bioregion a curriculum and faculty development initiative, “Curriculum for the Bioregion” is launching a five-year effort to engage 30 colleges and universities in the Puget Sound region in the integration of sustainability concepts across the general education curriculum. https://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/project.asp?pid=62 
  • Organic farm and Center for Ecological Living and Learning on campus to teach sustainable agriculture in a hands-on environment www.evergreen.edu/cell/aboutcell.htm

Operations and Facilities

  • Sustainable Campus – Evergreen’s 1000-acre campus includes about 800 acres of woods, forest and saltwater beach used for teaching and learning, but also incorporates nature and learning within its more developed areas.  The college is continuing to change its landscape for the better with green roofs, replacement of non-native plants (.e.g. English Ivy) with native vegetation, and installation of teaching gardens.  http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/arboretum/home.html
  • Evergreen built the Seminar II building – its newest teaching facility – as a L.E.E.D. gold-certified green building.  Seminar II also won a number of other awards for its environmentally friendly design. www.evergreen.edu/news/releases/april05/greenprojectaward.htm
  • Evergreen’s students have established a self-imposed fee for purchasing green, non-polluting energy at a cost of $100,000 per year (100% of Evergreen’s electricity is green).  In 2006 the EPA recognized Evergreen as one of the top 10 collegiate green power purchasers in the nation.  www.evergreen.edu/cleanenergy www.evergreen.edu/news/releases/feb06/greenpower.htm
  • Sustainable Food Service – Evergreen’s local, local organic and organic food purchases amount to between 28% and 38% per week.  The college now purchases 18% of the food for its Dining Service from within 150 miles of the campus with a goal of expanding that percentage.
  • Sustainable Housing Checkout – 2006 effort resulted in donations to 10 local non-profits (useable clothing, furniture and other items).