Climate Action Plan conference pushes MCTC toward the green

On Thurs., Sept. 16, 2010, the Climate Action Plan (CAP) conference was held at MCTC for faculty, staff, outside affiliations and students. This gathering was to discuss carbon neutrality on campus and how we could improve campus life for our earth and for generations to come.

MCTC President Phil Davis signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in October 2008 as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to implement actions for a carbon-neutral campus and to pioneer positive outcomes, leading the way for others.

Before I get too involved with the conference review, I must tell you as a student in the addiction counseling program on campus, I was not quite sure what to expect or how I would be useful by my attendance at this conference.

I just knew at the student senate meeting on Sept. 8, 2010, that I was interested in what was being proposed to members on our carbon footprint and how campus life is implementing strategies for a better tomorrow.

My thinking at the time was that this might be something I might be able to take with me after I graduate and later I found that I did find that there were lessons learned that I could implement to facilities as well as personal practices for myself.

The conference that I attended was the first meeting of a series that will improve the climate action plan on campus. Davis opened up our day introducing Peter H. Locke, who is a project director for energy services at McKinstry Corporation.

Locke introduced a quick summary of the different types of emissions into categories called scopes.

The first scope is “direct” (fuel consumed, natural gas and fuel oil), the second is “indirect” (electrical contribution) and the third is “other indirect” (transportation).

The research done by McKinstry indicated that MCTC’s largest carbon footprint was student transportation.

As a student at MCTC for the past two years, I have noticed the changes that have been made on campus including the renovation of the buildings as well as the yard joining Loring Park.

It makes sense to me now what the campus is trying to accomplish with going green. Couldn’t the money have been used to build a bigger parking garage for students that are trying so hard to find parking spots in the winter months?

Well, we students now have the option of purchasing a great discounted Go-To College Pass — an unlimited pass for Metro Transit’s bus, light rail and commuter rail routes — for which I am grateful, now that I don’t own a car.

Locke facilitated the conference, dividing it into six focus groups, which were on the topics of transportation; curriculum; cultural and communication; and waste and energy conservation.

Everyone split into these focus groups based on what we were interested in. We spent the rest of the day working on investigating these areas and dissecting methods incorporating MCTC campus life.

I was drawn to the cultural and communication focus group. Amongst the group I was introduced to community leaders, professors and staff who valued the input coming from students, who represented only about 10 percent of conference participants.

I was impressed on how much student involvement was encouraged within the groups.

Not only were students encouraged to participate, but they were valued as colleagues. I was able to observe this within the other groups through their debriefings.

When each group was given a task to focus on, each group had a spokesperson that summarizes the main points for the ideas to be shared by all.

I enjoyed the conference, and I’m excited for the next one. I hope through this report I sparked interest within you. And know … that you too … can have a voice.

Lucas Christopherson is a current MCTC student, majoring in addiction counseling, a member of the Addiction Counseling Club, member of the student senate and candidate for director of public relations in the student senate.