Posts tagged with “Emissions and Offsets” (All posts)

  • Over the past several years, college sustainability rankings and ratings have popped up all over the place but the STARS ranking, to be launched by AASHE in January 2009 will be the most comprehensive ranking yet.  It deserves serious attention from Carleton as both a ranking and a resource for future action.

  • Carleton recently recieved an A- for the second straight year from the Sustainable Endowments Institute and was an honorable mention for the Sierra Clubs “Top Ten Cool Schools” list.  But Carleton has been conspicuously absent from other list.  Ray McGaughey explains how these rankings are very subjective and differ in their grading criteria.

  • While numeric classifications tend not to shape members of the Carleton community, rankings of all sorts determine the way that others view our college. Evaluations of campus sustainability efforts form the latest lists. So I’ll cut to the chase—does Carleton measure up? We have been placed on some and absent on others, and while the value of magazine blurbs and ever-changing ranking remains dubious, I offer the following observations and comments about Carleton’s place among the Green:

  • The Mighty Turbine – January 2008 Data

    6 February 2008

    Wind Turbine

    While the students and faculty at Carleton suffered from cold temperatures and blustery wind chills during the month of January, Carleton’s wind turbine had a heyday. Throughout the month, the turbine generated 419,506 kilowatt-hours of electricity, generating the college $20,136.29 in income (since all energy produced is sold to Xcel Energy). However, if the energy generated from the turbine flowed directly to Carleton, it would have provided the campus with 36.4% of its needed electricity (based on 2006 use). Also, by providing renewable energy to the community’s power grid, the turbine averted almost 258.44 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

  • The perfect tool for winning Green Wars

    5 February 2008

    Think that you would participate in Green Wars if you didn’t have to constantly unplug and re-plug everything in your dorm room? Props if you already do (keep it up!), but for those less inclined, check out Belkin’s new tool: the Conserve, an eight outlet surge protector equipped with a wireless remote control which allows you to cut all power to unused appliances which still draw “phantom” power, such as televisions and cell phone chargers, with the flick of a button. According to Belkin, phantom power can comprise up to 15% of a household’s utilities, thus allowing for the Conserve (estimated to be $49.99) to pay for itself. (Picture above)

  • Can you spot the vending miser?

    4 February 2008

    There have been large changes with the sustainability program at Carleton, so it’s easy to see how some of the little things can get overlooked. However, one of the little things that the writers of Shrinking Footprints are excited about is the vending miser. The many vending machines—loaded with lights, electronics, and a cooling compressor—that are spread across campus comprise a significant electricity demand for the College. A Tufts University study determined that each of their vending machines drew 3,468 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, with average carbon dioxide emissions of 2.26 tons and a financial cost of $381. Though Carleton’s electricity is cheaper, by installing vending misers we can still halve the College’s energy and carbon expenses. What is a vending miser? The device simply consists of a motion sensor, which activates the lights on the vending machine when an individual passes by, and the “miser,” a box that controls the frequency which the machine’s compressor runs. The installation of misers on the least-frequented vending machines on campus would be instrumental in Carleton’s energy efficiency initiative, a critical component for meeting the goals of the Presidents Climate Commitment and also in the spirit of this month’s Green Wars.

    The cost of the vending miser (a princely $165 per unit) is no longer an issue either—check out Carleton’s Sustainability Revolving Fund to learn how the Sustainability Assistants are purchasing the units based on their energy savings.

    Also, Carleton has installed a prototype vending miser on only one of its machines. Can you find it?

  • Academic Travel and Global Warming

    24 January 2008


    There’s a good article in this week’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

    How do we reduce our contradictions or, better yet, our carbon emissions? The solutions are obvious, which is why no one wants to talk about them. They would require sacrifice, or at least a new way of thinking about and conducting our professional lives. Bring up the issue among a gathering of scholars and you will get something like the following responses:

    • “I know that flying is an environmental problem, but travel is essential to my work (and I really like San Francisco in the fall).”
    • “My research is a collaborative enterprise. I need to discuss it with colleagues face-to-face (over wine and cheese).”
    • “The importance of my research outweighs the environmental costs of air travel.”

    All of those points are reasonable (despite my parenthetical interjections). However, only the third argument directly engages the issue. And in some cases it might be accurate. The environmental costs of flights by scientists whose research, teaching, and outreach deal with environmental problems might be offset by their contributions to the development of sustainable policies, practices, and technologies.

    But what about the rest of us?

    I’m not sure how much professors at Carleton wrestle with this dilemma, but I’m curious to see if there was a survey, how many would give one of those three answers? However, the emissions from air travel are not just the fault of our faculty, but also the students who often fly home for breaks and study abroad. Should all of this stop? I’m by no means one to point fingers, but is there anyone looking at carbon offsets?

    Photo by Flickr user Gilbert R. used under a Creative Commons license

  • Higher education sustainability expert coming to Carleton

    10 January 2008

    On January 14, Anthony Cortese will present a lecture entitled “Sustainability in Higher Education.” Dr. Cortese has been a national leader in organizing colleges and universities around the cause of sustainability. Specifically, he is a co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and the Higher Education Association Sustainability Consortium. He is also a co-director of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which commits higher education institutions to address climate change by assessing and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. President Robert Oden of Carleton is a signatory of this agreement. During his visit, Dr. Cortese will also meet with faculty to discuss the development of sustainability curriculum. His public talk is part of a yearlong public lecture series on the topic of climate change sponsored by the Environmental and Technology Studies program.

    The lecture will begin at 7:30pm in Boliou Hall, room 104. Refreshments will be served.

  • Our friends over at Williams had their take on this, and I wanted to add a few more points about the differences between Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Offsets.

    First of all, RECs and offsets are entirely different environmental commodities. There are many misconceptions about RECs and offsets, and while some will say that it is because vendors have been misleading, I think it is more likely due to the fact that they are both somewhat abstract concepts to consumers and it does require a fair amount of research to be able to understand the differences between them.

    A REC, also referred to as a green tag, represensts the environmental benefits of one megawatt-hour of electricity generated by a renewable sources such as wind, solar, or small-scale hydropower. Another commonly cited benefit of RECs is that the money will incentivize the production of renewable energy resource.

    As many of our readers probably know, with out turbine, Carleton’s renewable energy credits were sold to Xcel and served as a monetary incentive to construct our wind turbine. Though I was not at Carleton when talks about the turbine were taking place, it is easy to say that the project might not have been financed if Carleton hadn’t been able to sell the credits.

    Continue by clicking the “read more” link below

  • EAC Minutes Posted

    31 October 2007

    Miss the October 2nd or October 16th EAC meetings? Find out what happened in the minutes posted here.