Topics: Sustainability/Environment, President

August 1, 2007

Ball State President Jo Ann Gora
Ball State is committed to sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of the university's global warming emissions with President Jo Ann M. Gora's recent signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). She joins the leaders of more than 300 other institutions across the country in endorsing the goals of the pact.

"Ball State has long been a leader in sustainability at all levels of the university," Gora said. "We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment, and our commitment is reflected in the 'green' buildings we are constructing, our efforts to upgrade our heating plant and with having the longest-standing green committee in Indiana's higher education community."

Under provisions of the ACUPCC, Ball State will create a comprehensive institutional action plan moving toward climate neutrality. The plan will set out the university's continued efforts in adopting green standards for buildings, enhancing Energy Star certification for products purchased by the university and offsetting emissions due to air travel.

The plan also will pledge continued support to encourage community use of public transportation, such as the long-term relationship the university has with MITS that allows anyone with a Ball State ID to ride free. Meanwhile, the university also is pursuing ways to purchase energy from renewable sources.

"Joining the university presidents was a natural fit for what Ball State has accomplished and what the university plans to achieve in the future," said Robert Koester, director of Center for Energy Research/Education/Service. "We've made a long-term commitment to continually transform the university into a model of a climate-friendly institution."

In terms of new construction, Ball State's strategic plan requires all new buildings to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver criteria or better. The rating system addresses sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design processes.

Two new buildings opening this fall on campus are LEED certified. The Communication and Media Building, Ball State's newest high-tech addition, will be a center of digital education technology. Park Hall, the university's first new residence hall since 1969, will house 600 students and feature modern living spaces designed in part on a broad sampling of student views on residence life.

The university launched a $48 million project to replace an aging boiler system and upgrade its chilled water plant. The project will replace four coal-fired boilers, upgrade three gas/oil-fired boilers and add two steam-powered chillers. The project will be paid through academic facilities bonds with annual debt service provided by the state of Indiana. By late 2010, the plant promises to be more efficient, cleaner and have the capacity to burn bio-fuels, such as switch grass.

In 2003, the university switched its entire bus fleet to bio-diesel fuel, which earned recognition from the National Wildlife Fund. Two years later it became the first university in Indiana to add an electric hybrid bus, which was the next logical step in running a cleaner fleet of campus vehicles.

Many of these projects were championed by Ball State's Council on the Environment (COTE), the longest-standing green committee at any university in the state. COTE, which can trace its beginnings to 1991, provides leadership for environmental initiatives at Ball State and the surrounding community that promote the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of ecological systems that sustain life.

The Presidents Climate Commitment is the first such effort by any major sector of society to set climate neutrality — not just a greenhouse gas reduction — as its target. It is inspired by efforts like the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and other collective efforts by states and businesses.

ACUPCC addresses global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate.

"Colleges and universities must lead the effort to reverse global warming for the health and well-being of current and future generations," said Arizona State University President Michael Crow, founding member of the ACUPCC Leadership Circle. "On behalf of all the signatories, I welcome President Gora to the commitment. We are honored and pleased to have her join us."

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