AU Aims for Carbon Neutrality by 2020

First D.C. university to announce carbon-neutrality plan

By Sharon Donnell
|  Friday, May 14, 2010  |  Updated 1:31 PM EDT
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American University has pledged to become a carbon-neutral campus within the next 10 years.

School officials announced the initiative Friday and said their plan is one of the most ambitious in the nation for a large urban campus without an engineering or agriculture school. 

"We have used the geographical limitations of our urban 84-acre campus in the nation’s capital to our advantage to more aggressively pursue renewable energy and carbon offsets," Chris O’Brien, director of sustainability, said in a written statement. 

The announcement comes two years after President Neil Kerwin signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment pledging that the school would work toward carbon neutrality.
 
"Of the few plans that call for earlier carbon neutral dates, American University’s size, location, and academic focus make our active pursuit of sustainability distinctive," O'Brien said.
 
To achieve carbon neutrality by 2020, AU plans to employ four strategies:
  1. Reduce consumption
  2. Produce renewable energy
  3. Buy green power
  4. Buy/develop carbon offsets
With the  recent purchase of wind-generated renewable energy credits equivalent to 100 percent of the AU's annual electricity usage, the university is more than halfway to its goal.
 
In addition, the university will soon install a wind turbine and a steam turbine to reduce its carbon emissions.
 
This summer, the university will be the first in the metropolitan area to install the Vegawatt, which will take used cooking oil from the dining hall and convert it, on site, to electricity and hot water, officials said.

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