WMU Carbon Neutrality Committee

WMU Carbon Neutrality Committee

Despite a delayed start due to Covid 19, WMU launched a new Carbon Neutrality Committee in February 2021. At that time, WMU was committed to carbon neutrality by 2065 and recognized the growing urgency of climate change and the local-to-global impacts already underway. Provost Jennifer Bott charged the committee to align expertise and resources to evaluate WMU's existing climate commitments and make recommendations for future action.

Snapshot - where are we?

After introductions in February 2021, the committee met in March and heard from Dr. Paul Pancella, co-author of the 2012 WMU Climate Action Plan. Paul shared insights on the establishment of the Climate Action Plan and on WMU's commitment to carbon neutrality. In April the committee heard from Associate Vice President of Facilities Management, Pete Strazdas, on recent energy conservation efforts, challenges, and opportunities in areas critical to greenhouse gas emissions reduction such as energy production, energy demand, conservation, human behavior, buildings, transportation, water, and waste. In June Jeff Spoelstra reviewed our WMU greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, which is based on four greenhouse gas inventories conducted by students and campus partners during the past 10 years. This concluded Phase I of the committee's work to review our commitment, the status of our plans, our reporting efforts, and our ongoing implementation efforts.

Committee co-chairs and Provost Bott agreed to pause the work of the committee in the Fall of 2021 so that many members could participate in the WMU Strategic Planning process. The new WMU Strategic Plan challenges the WMU community to embark on a new sustainability and decarbonization trajectory, building on historic strengths and leadership in these areas. The Plan elevates climate literacy and aligns the WMU carbon neutrality commitment target date with the State of Michigan’s target date. Additional actions are further detailed under the Sustainability goal, which calls for coordinated leadership, planning, data collection, reporting, and continuous improvement across teaching, research, campus infrastructure, and utilities. See the links under “Key Priorities and Full Recommendations”.

Contact Director Jeff Spoelstra at the WMU Office for Sustainability to explore WMU’s past decarbonization efforts.

When the Carbon Neutrality Committee begins work (equivalent to Phase II), key efforts will include explorations of:

  • carbon neutrality target date alignment with the State of Michigan and other entities;
  • available decarbonization technologies and options;
  • short, medium, and long-term benefits and trade-offs;
  • creative financing options; and,
  • revised or integrated planning needs and opportunities.

WMU collaborators are recruiting a faculty fellow during Fall semester 2023. Collaborative work will begin as early as Spring semester 2024. The Office for Sustainability is assembling historical information at this site for review by interested faculty and other collaborators.