Exeter Signs Green Schools Alliance Pledge
January 4, 2009
Sustainability at Exeter continues to germinate! Recently, the Academy joined the savvy list of almost 160 nationwide and nearly 30 New England private and independent schools who have signed the Green Schools Alliance Pledge, promising to reduce its carbon footprint.
Phillips Exeter's Principal Ty Tingley and Principal-Designee Tom Hassan gathered with Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Wilhelm, Energy and Environmental Management Director Rudy Cartier, and Carbon Committee students to officially sign the pledge and acknowledge their commitment to take better care of the natural world.
"This pledge is an important step toward the Academy's commitment to develop a comprehensive climate action plan and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time we have an official document – signed by the principal – committing the Academy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our efforts to date have been well-intended and quite successful, but we haven't had a vision in place for what campus sustainability actually means for PEA. This pledge, along with conducting a comprehensive sustainability and stewardship assessment, are the fundamental steps we need to take in order to develop a roadmap for our campus sustainability efforts," says Wilhelm.
The pledge provides a guideline created by the GSA, to help participating schools reach their carbon reduction goal by establishing benchmarks for success. Working in collaboration with national, state and local governmental agencies and environmental organizations, GSA offers measuring tools and informational resources to signatory schools.
Exeter has signed on as a climate steward, committing to calculating its carbon footprint by establishing an energy and carbon emissions baseline, and reducing carbon over time. Currently, efforts are focused on completing a comprehensive energy assessment, creating a sustainability task force to develop and implement an action plan, initiating tangible projects to reduce carbon emissions and demonstrate strong commitment to the PEA community.
For a large and growing number of Exeter students, commitment to sustainable practices is an urgent and growing national issue.
Raphael, an upper who serves as a co-head on the Environmental Action Committee, believes simple changes can oftentimes happen quite quickly and make a significant impact. "I'd increase the urgency with which Americans look at the environmental problems we face. Even simple things like changing the term 'global warming' to 'global scorching' could have a great impact – the fate of the human race is truly at stake, and millions of lives will be lost in the near future to the effects of global warming and excessive pollution if something drastic doesn't happen," he says. "I'd also change the focus of the environmental movement from a more 'personal-choice' angle to a more political angle."
Although Raphael says he's often frustrated with his fellow students' skepticism of the power of direct action, and their inclination to only get involved with election campaigns, being part of Exeter's intellectually mature environment makes him believe that participants in the sustainability movement can really get things done.
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Lion's note: this article first appeared on November 21, 2008.
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