Archive for Sunday, May 10, 2009

Students study ways to cut KU’s carbon footprint

May 10, 2009


Placing a carbon tax on parking passes, having vending machines turn on only when people walk by them and investing in wind farms — these are some of the suggestions that have come out of a Climate Action Plan at Kansas University.

A class of 12 graduate students spent the past semester collecting data on the university’s carbon footprint and then looked at ways to reduce those carbon emissions.

On Thursday afternoon, students from the “Energy, Ecology and Community in Kansas” seminar presented their recommendations on how the university could combat climate change through its operations, research and teaching.

More than 600 higher education institutions across the country have signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Kansas University is not one of them. But students did examine the sustainability policies of about two dozen other schools that have made significant efforts toward reducing carbon emissions.

Students told a roomful of faculty, administrators and peers that the changes they selected were among the “low-lying fruit.”

“We tried to develop something actionable … but with something manageable,” student Joe Nickels said.

By next year, the university is expected to spend $7 million in energy costs alone. To reduce that bill, the class suggested the university better monitor buildings’ temperatures when they are not in use, place solar panels on suitable surfaces, replace light fixtures with more efficient ones and upgrade storm windows and awnings.

As part of their course work, students should conduct energy audits of campus facilities, the plan states. It also noted that the school should better educate incoming freshmen on alternative transportation options and offer more public transportation to commuters. And the plan encouraged KU to change its purchasing policy to promote buying the most efficient — not the least expensive — vehicles.

“This is just a baseline to get started,” student Kara Lock said at the end of the presentation.

The university’s administration, which is in the midst of a turnover with Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Provost Richard Lariviere set to resign, would have to approve the plan, instructor Kelly Kindscher said.

“Students have to push this really hard to make this happen,” Kindscher said.


snafu 9 years ago

Put a tax on Soda’s and Bottled Water. There is lots of energy used transporting them around. And there not needed.

Summerguuurl007 9 years ago

Maybe by, oh, I don't know, STUDENTS NOT THROWING THEIR COPIES OF THE KANSAN ON THE GROUND AFTER READING THEM? C'mon guys, I know that for many of you it's the first time you've been away from Mommy and Daddy, but seriously. Classrooms look like pigsties after you've been in there.

appleaday 9 years ago

Not to mention the entire Oread neighborhood, which is full of trash, glass and plastic bottles and cups, and whatever else they discard.

imastinker 9 years ago

There are some pretty big improvements that could be made - like adding insulation and improving windows or heating and cooling systems. But, since these aren't "sexy" enough, they won't happen. They'd rather focus on vending machines and solar panels. This is too typical....

Look into geothermal or geosolar products, as well as solar water tempering for water heating (uses solar to heat water before going to boiler - making the boiler do less work). They could add vestibules to buildings and prevent heat loss from open doors. Those types of improvements MIGHT actually pay off.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years ago

What the hell is a "carbon footprint" anyhow??? Is this something that we need to get a broom and clean up? I hear this popular buzzword tossed around by people who seem to think that their view of the world overpowers all others that people may have, but I have not been able to determing exactly what the devil these self-aggrandizing people are talking about. How is this supposedly important detail noticed or measured? What is the imagined effect of one "carbon footprint" of median size on the environment? How is it identified? Who dreamed up this imaginary hobgoblin?????? Anybody?????

Fugu 9 years ago


The idea of reducing your ecological foot print has been around for a very long time. It is not new, nor arbitrary.

appleaday 9 years ago

Yep; it's like what you learned as a Cub Scout -- the idea of leaving the camp site at least as good as the way you found it. Or what your grandmother taught you about cleaning up after yourself.

classclown 9 years ago

Cut the number of students in half and you'll cut the CO2 output said students produce in half.

Summerguuurl007 9 years ago

Classclown is right-not only would it reduce the amount of CO2, but it would get rid of tons of hot air...which, on second thought, should be used to heat buildings...

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