By Kevin Gaiss
Imagine a world where college campuses across the country are running on fully sustainable energy and are leaving almost no impact on the environment. It sounds crazy, but in fact it is a major movement going on on campuses across the country. Now, imagine that movement being lead by the historically progressive and innovative campus of Springfield College.
“We are already committed to the idea of leadership and the advancement of others, so why not take on one more leadership role and show the nation it can be done,” said freshman Chloe Hedrich. Hedrich is the leader of the Springfield College movement and student intern for Environment Massachusetts. She has high hopes for Springfield College and believes that our campus is the perfect candidate for the movement to begin based on our commitment to leadership and service.
Springfield College is currently involved in a “Climate Action Plan” that has us on track to be a “net-zero” campus by 2030. Signed in 2012, the document spells out the commitment involved: “In signing the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the College committed to measuring its existing impact on the environment and creating a plan for moving toward the eventual achievement of a net zero impact.” Net Zero means that a building, or in this case a campus, consumes roughly the same amount of energy that it produces.
The initial commitment is there. Now it is a matter not of how to do it, but rather getting the student body rallied and informed and committed to the movement. Proving a student body is interested in such a movement is no small undertaking, but Hedrich is not alone. With support from the environmental science club, the rallying was complete. Petitions circled and word was spread all over Facebook and Twitter to show support for the bill being passed through Massachusetts legislature.
On March 29th, Hedrich was joined by Environmental Science Club representatives Cam Spear, Andre Levesque, Jess Kosciuk, and Professor Justin Compton for a conference discussing the next move for the movement here on campus. Each group brought a different perspective to the meeting and offered ideas for where to go from here.
“The club can only do so much, but with some traction, more can happen, that’s why raising awareness was so important,” Spear and Levesque said collectively.
Hedrich went on to explain what the importance of having a college campus on board is.
“So much of all of this petitioning and spreading awareness is to highlight the role that colleges and universities can play,” he said. “They act as the perfect springboard to show the country what we can do.”
Professor Compton too sees the importance of getting the student body and faculty on board.
“The students and faculty are on board and there is a more powerful voice there than people know. If this is what the students want, the administration will be very receptive,” said Compton.
If Massachusetts passes the bill, it will be the first state committed to be fully sustainable and have a net zero energy consumption in the country. This would have the state switched over by the year 2050. But why wait that long? Springfield College is committed to be net-zero by 2030 which will make us a leader in not only a state-wide movement, but possibly even bigger.
“Our slogan embodies it.” Spear explains. “Spirit, mind, and body with commitment to serving others. You can’t have any of that without a commitment to the earth in some way, it just has to spread from there.”
Strides have been made when it comes to protecting the environment but there is a long way to go. With awareness comes change, and what better place for a major movement to get sparked than “The Birthplace.”