BGSU taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint

BGSU students hold green pinwheels during kickoff of Earth Week.


BG Independent News

Bowling Green State University is in it for the long haul when it comes to sustainability.

Under the terms of the American University and College Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey signed with almost 700 of her peers, the university will work to reduce its carbon footprint by an average of 4 percent a year, leading to being carbon neutral by 2040.

Nick Hennessey, campus sustainability manager, speaks at Earth Week kickoff as Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey looks on.

Monday marked the kickoff for Earth Week activities on campus. A short ceremony to mark the occasion was held outside McFall Center with those gathered moving to place green pinwheels outside the student union. The theme is “Action Today, Better Tomorrow.”

Nick Hennessey, BGSU’s sustainability manager, said Monday that the university is close to reducing its carbon footprint by 4 percent annually, but hasn’t done so yet. “We’re working on it. We’re taking a big chunk of it. We’re right where we want to be.”

He’s looking forward to finalizing the university’s greenhouse gas analysis. “The most change has occurred in the last year,” he said.

Renovation of buildings helps, Mazey said. She’s proud of the number that have earned LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Certification.

When the Harshman Quad, the Family and Consumer Science building, and West Hall come down this summer that will have “a major impact on our energy consumption,” Mazey said.

Hennessey said the effort to reduce the carbon footprint also got a boost from the city. Now 40 percent of the electricity supplied to BGSU comes from renewable sources.

Mazey praised the Friday Nights Lights Out program through which student volunteers patrol campus and turn off lights that are not needed.

Hennessey said that kind of grassroots effort is essential for conservation. This year the program has been expanded, with the approval of Information Technology Services, to computers.

The university is also trying to plant more trees. The university will mark Arbor Day Friday as part of the Earth Week.

Mazey looks forward to more trees being planted where buildings are removed. Also, the closing of the Forrest Creason Golf Course offers additional opportunities.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere. BGSU will soon be submitting its application to become a Tree Campus USA.

Piper Jones, the vice president of the Environmental Service Club who organized the event, said this was the first year a kickoff event was staged. Getting the president involved was a way of attracting attention and publicizing Earth Week activities.

Those start tonight with a talk by economics professor Abiye Alamina at 7 p.m. in room 208 of the student union.

Tuesday, Jordan Fisher Smith will talk about “Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature” at 7 p.m. in the student union theater. He will discuss the death of Harry Eugene Walker, who was killed by a grizzly in Yellowstone, and the impact of the suit that followed.

Wednesday, environmental organizations, groups, and initiatives from all across the region will gather on the Union Oval from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Environmental Action Group will conduct an audit of what is sent to the landfill during the fair.

Thursday, the documentary “The Economics of Happiness” will be screened at 7 p.m. in the student union theater. The film contrasts the push by governments and big business for growth through global trade and communities coming together to re-build more human-scale ecological economies based on localization.

Friday, the campus will recognize Arbor Day by planting trees. The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. between Kohl Hall and Carillon Place.

Saturday, the university will join the Court Street Connects block party. As part of the festivities, temporary bike lanes will be installed. Hennessey said BGSU orange bikes will be available for students to use. (See story at:

Sunday, Creation Care Celebration will be held at Peace Lutheran Church, 1021 W. Wooster St., Bowling Green, from 1 to 3 p.m. Don Schooner, of Schooner Farms, will present the keynote address on renewable agriculture. (See story at: