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Southern Miss completes climate action plan

HATTIESBURG — A roadmap directing the University of Southern Mississippi to its goal of a carbon-free campus by 2050 has been produced through a collaborative effort by faculty, staff and students.

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) is the framework for the university’s vision of a campus that follows best practices in environmentally sensitive construction, operations and educational initiatives, said Larry Lee, the university’s chief sustainability officer. The plan follows Southern Miss president Martha Saunders’ signing of the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Action in 2006 and was developed by the University Climate Commitment Council (UC3).

“Within the first year of signing that document, we put in place a structure to oversee the process of becoming a sustainable university, and the Climate Action Plan (CAP) outlines that structure with a set of targeted actions,” Lee said. “It will get us to carbon neutrality while saving us one-third of a billion dollars.”

Those actions include: community involvement and education that creates and nurtures a culture of sustainability; conservation and optimization; green building; and, investment in strategies that include emissions reductions.

The production of the CAP included assistance from Aramark’s Division of Energy and Sustainability, which helped the UC3 conduct a four-month study of the university’s energy consumption and infrastructure. Currently, approximately 70 percent of the university’s carbon emissions come from energy used on campus (electrical and stationary sources) and about 28 percent from transportation, primarily from commuters.

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