This week, President Joe Biden took to the G20 and COP26 Summits to discuss climate change on a global scale.
While he is speaking to the world’s leaders, the fight against climate change rages on here in Philadelphia.
Temple University has been at the forefront when it comes to combatting climate change in the city. With the creation of the Office of Sustainability, the university hopes to limit its carbon footprint.
The director of the office, Rebecca Collins, spoke about the importance of small-scale responses to climate change.
“It’s really important that these conversations are happening on a global scale,” Collins stated. “It’s equally important to have them on a local scale, as well.”
The university has put in place a Climate Action Plan, aimed at limiting the school’s gas emissions.
Collins says the short-term goal is to reduce the school’s carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2030. Long term, the university wants to be 100% carbon neutral by 2050.
This is a feasible goal, but according to Kurt Bresser, the director of Utilities and Energy Management at Temple, it’s one that needs more technological advances to be fully possible.
“But, every day there’s news on other potential fuels and ways of producing them that gives me some hope,” Bresser noted.
He asserts that the school needs to change the type of energy it uses to truly be carbon-neutral.
Currently, the school uses diesel fuel to power equipment around campus. This is an improvement from other oil, but it’s still not as environmentally friendly as other forms of energy.
Temple has a number of projects in the works that Bresser says aids efficient energy consumption. However, a school of Temple’s size is going to use a lot of energy regardless of what changes are made.
Because of this, he says the focus needs to be on how to create efficient ways to use fuel.
“A lot of what uses energy is not visible to the students in the general population,” he stated.
Some examples of this is the installation of automatic cooling systems, efficient HVAC units, and stormwater collection systems.
Students might be familiar with some of the bigger construction projects that aid in fighting climate change. One such project, is the green space connected to Anderson Hall. This space was designed to collect runoff water.
The most impressive tool in Temple’s arsenal against climate change is actually the Charles Library.
Bresser stated that per square foot, Charles is the most efficient building on campus.
Charles Library collects rainwater on the pavement around the structure, and the green roof regulates the temperature inside.
While the strides that Temple and other world leaders are making are good ones, in Collins’s opinion, she hopes that students can recognize the power that they hold.
“As students at Temple University, you have a tremendous amount of power to help shape the future that you want to see,” Collins said. “And that’s not only from what you are studying, but after you leave the university and think about what type of leader you want to be. “