In 2007, Ed Ray, the president of Oregon State University, signed the college onto what was then called the President’s Climate Commitment. Now simply called the Climate Commitment, this is a document with around 600 signatories that all made the commitment for their respective colleges and universities to be carbon neutral by 2025. Brandon Trelstad, OSU sustainanbility officer, said that attaining this goal is unrealistic for OSU for a few reasons.
“In short, no, we are not going to make the goal. We’ve done a lot since we’ve set the goal in 2007 and it’s an incredibly ambitious goal. In absolute terms, and even more when you account for the growth of the school, we have decreased carbon emissions, though,” Trelstad said.
One of the reasons OSU will not be making the goal is the size of the school, and how much it has grown in the past years. Since around the year 2000, the school has nearly doubled in size. According to Trelstad, the potential growth of the school was not accounted for in 2007 when the commitment was signed. That doesn’t mean that the school hasn’t made any progress, however.
“We invested a couple million dollars in light upgrades and about a million dollars in thermal upgrades like steam traps,” Trelstad said.
Steve Clark, vice president of university relations and marketing, mentioned another upgrade for the school.
“We have dramatically changed energy consumption on campus. In 2010, we opened the OSU Energy Center, which produces 40% of the electricity consumed on the Corvallis campus,” Clark said. “That center is powered by natural gas, which is a cleaner source of fuel and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the coal-fired plants that produce a large share of the electricity that OSU purchases externally.”