RIT to Join in Climate Commitment, Destler Announces

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A. Sue Weisler

Vito Morbidini, left, second-year industrial design student, takes part in the Taste Test Challenge during RIT’s National Teach-In on Global Warming. Nevin Byrd, center, and Summer Naugle, members of the Student Environmental Action League, administered the challenge to gage preferences between bottled and tap water. SEAL members claim four out of five participants prefer tap.

RIT President Bill Destler will sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. Destler made the announcement last night during an address to the campus community, which concluded a daylong observance of the National Teach-In on Global Warming.

The Presidents Climate Commitment, which has been signed by hundreds of college and university presidents nationwide, provides support and a framework for America’s colleges and universities to go climate neutral. Particular emphasis is placed on neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions while accelerating research and educational programs.

“As part of this commitment, we will need to come up with an institutional strategic plan for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas production, and provide institutional structures and support that can move the campus toward the goals set in the plan,” explains Destler. “This plan will include a green building policy, an energy-star procurement policy, encouragement of public transportation, green power production and purchasing, and waste minimization.”

In addition, he pledged to make RIT a national center of excellence in the areas of environmental science and sustainability.

Destler also used his address to outline green initiatives the university has already undertaken. He highlighted the new College of Applied Science and Technology Building, which earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification and serves as a model of energy efficiency for current and future construction projects on campus. He also acknowledged updates to the heating and cooling infrastructure, campus participation in the national Recyclemania program, and new academic programs in environmental science, sustainable engineering, and the nation’s first doctorate focused on sustainable manufacturing and production.

“These are impressive and many in number,” he says, “but they are not enough. Nevertheless, they demonstrate what we can accomplish if we work together on these goals, and they serve as good models for what we can do in the future.”

Earlier in the day, additional activities were held across campus in conjunction with the National Teach-In on Global Warming. Participating faculty members incorporated discussions on climate change into regularly scheduled lesson plans, and the Student Alumni Union served as the epicenter for a variety of presentations and instructional demonstrations. Nevin Byrd, a third-year public policy student and a member of RIT’s National Teach-In organizing committee, hopes the event promotes widespread awareness to this cause.

“There’s so much we do in our daily lifestyles that people don’t really stop and think about—using water bottles, how much energy we use,” states Byrd. “So there are things happening across campus to remind people about how they’re impacting global climate change.”

Highlights from RIT’s observance of the National Teach-In on Global Warming will be posted online at www.rit.edu/gwteachin.