In response to the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris, NSU signed the American Campus’s Act on Climate Pledge on Dec. 16 to transition to low-carbon energy and to enhance sustainable practices on campus.
According to whitehouse.gov, the official pledge states that the institution signing the agreement wants a comprehensive and ambitious agreement to stem from the climate negotiations.
It reads, “We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health and are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low carbon future.”
Jacqueline Travisano, executive vice president and chief operating officer, expressed in an official letter that as an extension of NSU Vision 2020, the university will educate students and the local community about renewable resources and low-carbon footprints.
Travisano said NSU is known for leading the way with energy conservation, water usage reduction, waste stream diversion and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
“This particular pledge compliments our efforts, and I hope it will encourage more student engagement as we work together as a community to steward our environment for the future,” she said.
The pledge was brought to the attention of the Office of the President after Green Sharks President Cassilly Lobaugh, junior environmental studies major, approached the Office about the opportunity. Lobaugh found out about the pledge while interning at Broward County’s Office of Energy and Sustainability.
Lobaugh said that signing the pledge makes NSU nationally-recognized and holds the university accountable for its actions, makes people aware of its initiatives and educates about what sustainability is.
“A lot of people don’t know what sustainability is, and they don’t really understand it,” she said. “I think that education is really important. Not just for third-world countries who are really going to be affected by climate change, but also big countries and people like you and I who have an impact.”
More than 300 colleges and universities throughout more than 40 states signed ACACP. It was created to gather support to get global leaders to make environmental changes at the United Nations COP21 climate negotiations that took place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris, which became the setting for the first global climate deal.
The international agreement aims to reduce emissions and stated that governments will reconvene every five years to update goals, stay in continuous contact and provide international support for climate adaptation.
Travisano said that the pledge reinforces and highlights some of NSU’s efforts to be a more sustainable, green campus and that it is even more special because it was learned about after a student leader recognized the opportunity.
“The campus, as a whole, benefits by having more students actively involved in green initiatives and assisting in the implementation of sustainability plans because it creates a sense of campus ownership and pride,” she said.
Jessica Brumley, vice president of Facilities Management, agreed with Travisano and said that she believes NSU’s students have innovative and fresh ideas.
“These ideas are invaluable and support NSU’s core values,” she said. “In particular, those of being student-centered, innovation and community involvement.”
The White House initiated a generic pledge for applicants to format, so Lobaugh worked with Travisano to write an NSU-specific pledge that included bullet points of sustainable initiatives the university has made, including continuing to improve the single stream recycling program and develop a program to reduce landscape waste recycling, construction material recycling and used furniture redistribution.
Future plans include connecting additional buildings, such as the Family Center and the Center of Collaborative Research to the Lafferty Energy Plant and striving to make the CCR and Noel P. Brown facility LEED-certified.
“Climate change is real, and it’s affecting us right now. We, in South Florida, are already experiencing the effects of sea level rise… It’s our responsibility to make sure we take care of our one and only home,” Lobaugh said. “There are little things that everyone can do that will make an impact. If everyone does something, that’s when we’ll start to see a big difference.”
For more information on the pledge, visit whitehouse.gov. To see the full agreement from the Paris negotiations, visit unfccc.int.
Sustainability initiatives currently in place at NSU include:
- Using the Lafferty Energy Plant to cool NSU buildings by producing ice at “off-peak” times, as designated by Florida Power and Light
- The Green Driver Program, which includes 107 vehicles that monitor speed, acceleration and idle time
- The Guy Harvey Oceanographic Center has secured a silver rating by Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)
- Utilization of green cleaning products
- In 2015, the single stream recycling program diverted over 165 tons of trash from the landfill
- All residence halls shower heads, excluding Rolling Hills Graduate Residence Halls, are low-flow
- Automated building control systems for energy conservation
- A partnership with the Town of Davie to use reclaimed water for landscaping irrigation
- Use of native landscape to reduce water usage
- Use of solar panels to heat Rolling Hills swimming pool
- Use of solar panels at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park to provide energy to the area
- Participation in RecycleMania competitions
- Diverts six tons of food waste from Lower School using Green Key Bio-Digester
- Participation in the BetterWorld Book Repurposing since 2011