Eco-forum plans future for UVM

Turning off your lights and riding bikes is the first step; establishing a carbon neutral university is the next.Roughly 30 individuals sat in Old Mill’s John Dewey Lounge this Wednesday discussing different topics under the theme of a carbon-neutral UVM.Tatiana Abatemarco, graduate fellow in the Office of Sustainability, said that each speaker discussed a different topic relevant to this theme: Francis Churchill talked about electricity, Steve Posner talked about energy education and then Gioia Thompson talked about the Climate Action Plan.”All three of them generally relate to climate change: electricity, being something we have to address for carbon neutrality, energy education being something we need to address, and the climate action plan being a means for addressing these things on campus,” Abatemarco said.After a brief introductory period, Francis Churchill began discussing energy and electricity. His major focus was on Vermont Yankee, the nuclear power plant that provides electricity to local and state residents.”Vermont Yankee currently provides one third of Vermont’s electrical power, however, it is rumored to expire in 2012,” Churchill said.This would lead one to expect our state to become more susceptible to outside forces in the energy market, he said, however he also said that their license might be renewed.Churchill also covered other subjects, including alternative energy and national energy trends.”The national perspective is that there is a major electrical generation in the west that is very inefficient and is spreading east toward New England,” Churchill said.The next person to speak was UVM graduate Stephen Posner, who is currently working on a project titled “Accelerating Campus Climate Change Initiatives.”He broke his presentation down into three categories: past, present and future.”The main part of UVM’s mission here is to develop tools and strategies,” Posner said. “The idea is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by informing individuals and institutional decision makers on these subjects and eventually hoping to change their behaviors.”He also explained how he was getting different demographics of the student body involved. He has done work with undergraduate and graduate students, and said he is interested in working with medical students as well.”A huge barrier where I think there is a lot of potential is for renewable energy and human health to coincide,” he said. He said there is an obvious correlation between the two items and there is no need for them to be exclusive from one another.The last speaker was Gioia Thompson, the director of the Office of Sustainability. She discussed the Climate Action Plan, which addressed the group’s main goal of climate neutrality.”What we need to do is direct our attention to conservation within our University before we can begin to think outwardly,” Thompson said.Wednesday was the second meeting of the semester for the Office of Sustainability. The first, on Sept. 23, covered educational programs of sustainability at UVM.