OXFORD — The University of Mississippi has launched a campus-wide commitment with the goal of making Ole Miss “climate neutral.”
Chancellor Dan Jones signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to which some 600 of his counterparts across the country also gave their signatures.
“A lot of good things happen on this campus and our university every day,” Jones said. “Students’ lives are changed. We make an impact on our state, but as we are doing that in a modern society; consequently, we have negative effects on the environment, on the Earth. This is simply a commitment to joining with lots of other universities in saying we want to be the best stewards we can be.”
In April 2008, then-Chancellor Robert Khayat signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and two months later the university established its Office of Sustainability.
“Sustainability is about efficiency in all things; it’s a smart way to live,” said Ian Banner, university architect and director of sustainability. “Do as much as you can with as little as necessary. Try not to waste, pollute or destroy. Respect what is around you and preserve it for coming generations.”
The Office of Sustainability is working on “green” building construction principles across campus to promote energy and water efficiency and environmentally conscious uses of building materials. Last fall, it also launched a compost pilot program, supported by the UM Green Fund, which has diverted one ton of food waste from the local landfill and produced beneficial soil enhancements for the campus garden at Residential College South. The office also runs an intern program that provides valuable experience for students.
The office also supports the establishment of the broad campus council for sustainability that is to be formed this summer. There’s an ongoing effort to fully understand how the university is affecting the environment, as well as an effort to determine other initiatives to be undertaken as UM pursues climate neutrality. Students, faculty and staff will be involved in all these efforts as the university continues to learn and make positive changes.