George Fox strives to reduce carbon footprint

Carbon footprint reductionThe George Fox community generates approximately 7,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to a study completed by university engineering students. That amounts to about 2.8 tons for every full-time student on campus.  

The university would like to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions, or the size of its “carbon footprint,” by 10 percent by 2015. This goal is part of the Creation Care initiative included in the university’s strategic plan.

Man-made green house gasses are considered a contributor to the Earth’s rising temperature by most scientists, according to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The study, advised by Bob Harder, professor of mechanical engineering, provides a baseline to help track the effectiveness of proposals for reducing emissions that the Creation Care Committee will make this fall.  

The students calculated carbon dioxide emissions from George Fox operations in an average year based on 2003-2007 data. They examined quantifiable elements such as building energy use, academic and staff travel, and waste sent to landfill. By far, the largest share results from electricity from utility companies. Strategies to reduce electricity consumption will address both systemic changes via automatic controls, for example, and voluntary action.

Students used the Campus Carbon Calculator developed by Clean Air-Cool Planet, a widely used international accounting tool, developed to quantify greenhouse gas emissions.

 “Setting specific goals are important,” Harder said. “We’re more aware of our practices when they are measured and we see a tangible difference our choices make.”