UND To Celebrate Earth Day On Wednesday

The University of North Dakota has lots to celebrate this coming Earth Day and invites the community to share the festivities Wednesday.

As one of the nation’s leading lights in the college sustainability movement, UND will host an Earth Day special event Wednesday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Memorial Union first floor and Loading Dock. The event is sponsored by the UND Council on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability (Sustainability Council).

The University invites you to learn about eco-options and pick-up information and samples from groups such as the Ski and Bike Shop, UND Dining Services and several City of Grand Forks departments. Several other organizations and vendors are participating in the event,  including Spartan Cleaning Products, UND Student Government, and the ARH Recycling Committee (students).

Wednesday’s Earth Day program at UND is sponsored by the UND Council on Sustainability and assisted by UND Recycling, Health and Wellness, and the Earth System Science and Policy department,  the City of Grand Forks and the Facilities Department.

About UND environmental stewardship and sustainability
What does sustainability mean to UND? Sustainability means that as a university we strive to meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It means finding ways we can save energy, be friendlier to the environment, and conduct research to help future generations.

UND has pledged to do its part to curb global warming. Former UND President Charles Kupchella signed, and UND President Robert Kelley renewed, the “American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment,” which commits UND to finding ways to dramatically reduce its own contributions to greenhouse gases. An additional benefit to UND will be reduced energy costs.

A secondary, but also important, consequence of any such steps taken: a reduction in energy costs and, thus, operating costs. By signing the President’s Climate Commitment, UND set in motion the process for developing a plan over the next several years to achieve climate neutrality. To help hit that target, UND has also developed an institutional plan to achieve optimal energy efficiency.

Among the key steps UND took on its road to carbon neutrality was the appointment of an institutional standing “Council on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.”

UND, on target for significant long-term reductions in its carbon footprint, last year released its Climate Action Plan (CAP) for public viewing. The Climate Action Plan, which is updated annually, is submitted to the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) as a report card that’s viewable online.

Part of UND’s sustainability effort includes a regularly updated campus climate impact inventory of all of the University’s greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting, and air travel, and update the inventory every other year thereafter.

Among other initiatives, the University has the following sustainability-related activities:

  • A comprehensive energy efficiency improvement program using state bond funding; the first set of bonds have already been paid off with savings generated by this program. In total UND has received about $9 million in bond and grant funding for its sustainability efforts.
  • The University already has a number of environmental programs, including a wide variety of programs at the Energy & Environmental Research Center. UND also has programs in such areas as environmental engineering, environmental geoscience, environmental management, and environmental studies, and is home to such units as the Environmental Training Institute and the Tribal Environmental Law Project.
  • UND has a well-established recycling program that keeps nearly 500 tons of waste material annually out of area landfills. The ongoing quest to find a suitable replacement for the current landfill is a major regional issue.
  • The Energy & Environmental Research Center’s Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership has an ongoing major effort to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of carbon sequestration, a major emerging strategy in greenhouse gas mitigation. The Phase III effort, to be constructed over the next 10 years and with an estimated value of more than $300 million, is the culmination of the PCOR Partnership’s actions over the last several years. The PCOR Partnership has more than 70 public and private sector partners in a nine-U.S.-state, four-Canadian-province area.
  • The University has long supported a shuttle program and the City of Grand Forks has established bus transportation to and from campus.
  • UND recently completed a parking ramp that helps alleviate on-campus automobile travel.
  • Research is being carried out in the Department of Chemical Engineering and in the Energy & Environmental Research Center on the development and use of bio-fuels.
  • The University has completed several buildings according to LEED standards, including the University Place, the Education Building addition and renovation as well a LEED Platinum certified alumni center.

Useful links:
UND Council on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

UND Climate Action Plan

UND Green Report Card

UND Earth System Science and Policy

Randall Bohlman
Technology Advancement Coordinator
UND Facilities

Juan Miguel Pedraza, writer/editor
UND Office of University Relations
701-777-6571 office 701-740-1321 cell