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MU Officials Meet with Student Leaders to Discuss Sustainability Efforts

MU is working to make campus "carbon neutral"

Sept. 16, 2009

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Today, University of Missouri sustainability officials met with a regional organizer of the Sierra Club and MU students to discuss ways the campus can continue to improve its sustainability efforts. MU students, faculty and staff have been working for several years to reduce the carbon footprint of the campus through energy efficient practices and promoting responsible use of natural resources.

“We’re very proud of our sustainability efforts, but we know we have more work to do,” said Steve Burdic, sustainability coordinator at MU. “For example, since 1990, building space on campus has grown by 30 percent, yet we have reduced our energy usage by more than 10 percent and our green house gas emissions by 11 percent. We agree that we need to continue to move to more sustainable ways to generate energy and are working with our faculty on various research projects to take appropriate actions in that direction.”

Other examples of sustainability practices at MU include:

  • MU is a member of EPA’s Honor Society of Energy Star Buildings Partners and is considered a leader in energy conservation by the EPA. Currently, MU is proceeding with the design and purchase of a 100 percent biomass boiler to replace an existing coal-fired unit. This will allow MU to replace up to 25 percent of its coal with renewable biomass fuels.
  • The university power plant currently burns 5 percent to 10 percent biomass daily, and works with researchers on campus to test-burn alternative fuels such as corn cobs and wood chips.
  • The chancellor has signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which pledges that the university will become carbon neutral. Officials in the new MU Sustainability Office are working to develop a carbon-assessment tool to develop a timeline to reach “carbon-neutral” status. Carbon-neutral status is attained when the carbon that is produced through activities such as power generation or vehicle use is balanced with activities that remove carbon from the atmosphere such as planting trees.
  • The annual utility savings from energy conservation measures has reached $4.6 million.  Based on EPA data, the corresponding reduction of CO2 emissions is equivalent to annually removing 19,000 cars from the roadways or planting 30,000 acres of trees. 

“When Chancellor Brady Deaton signed the President’s Climate Commitment this past February, he demonstrated to us how committed he is to making our campus carbon neutral,” said Patrick Margherio, MU student coordinator of the President’s Climate Commitment process. “We already have Mizzou students, faculty and staff working on developing a plan to meet the commitment. In fact, we are already making great strides toward carbon neutrality by replacing one of our existing coal boilers with a 100 percent biomass boiler, which will come online in 2012. This boiler would not have been possible without the vested interest of the university toward carbon neutrality.”

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