With 400 University offices under renovation and construction this year, more than 200 environmentally-conscious students, faculty and staff have asked University President Lee Bollinger and the administration to consider updating facilities to energy-efficient standards which comply with the Kyoto Protocol by the year 2010.
The Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997 by the United States and 84 other industrial nations in order to reduce greenhouse gas admissions 7 percent below 1990 levels. The United States is the only country that has not yet ratified this treaty.
On Oct. 31, Michigan Faculty and Staff for Global Warming Action sent their petition to Bollinger and the University Board of Regents, requesting that the University join other colleges and universities in creating their own form of the Kyoto Protocol.
The letter notes other colleges and Universities, including Tufts University, Oberlin College and Rutgers University, which have already enacted similar proposals, adding that “the University of Michigan should join this group of environmental leaders.”
The letter suggests renovations to all campus buildings to include the Environmental Protection Agency”s renewable-energy systems.
A similar proposal was made to Bollinger and the regents last spring by Sustain U-M, a student group dedicated to environmental issues.
Now, two weeks later, Catherine Badgely, director of the Environmental Studies Program, said she has yet to receive a response from Bollinger.
“What we request in this letter from the faculty and in the parallel letter from Sustain U-M would certainly require some changes, but we think they could be done in a creative way and in a way that would elevate the University,” Badgely said.
“It would be a challenge, but it is within the reach of the University to do this.”
Badgely, who has been a faculty liaison between Sustain U-M and the administration, said she would like to see Bollinger make the University more energy efficient as his final great achievement before leaving for Columbia University in January.
“I suspect that with all the other things President Bollinger has on his mind and especially since he is only here until the end of the year, that he won”t give this much attention, and I don”t know how much innovation an interim president can make on this issue,” Badgely said.
“But I know that (interim President-elect B. Joseph White) has a strong interest in environmental issues. He was on the provost advisory council for environmental commitment. He has a personal interest in making the University more environmentally sound.”
The letter was forwarded to the office of Facilities and Operations and has been taken under consideration by its staff, spokeswoman Diane Brown said.
She said the biggest problem with the all of the proposals made to the administration is that they fail to give specific changes that should be made to reduce admissions.
“The Kyoto Protocol is designed for countries, not for individual institutions,” she said. “That”s the whole problem.”
Jason Smerdon, Sustain U-M founder, said he hopes this most recent letter sent to the administration receives adequate attention and a response from Bollinger.
Smerdon added that the University is a national leader in environmental policies he hopes that Bollinger will overlook the initial additional building costs of these changes.
“We can”t wait around until someone else has made this a foolproof plan. That is not the role of a leader and the long term nature of this change will make it too late to make course corrections in the future that are needed now,” Smerdon said.
“The point is that reducing our emissions is something that must be done,” she added.