News Release

Published on Friday, December 14, 2007

Western Technical College President Lee Rasch recently committed to sharply reducing and eventually eliminating all of the college's global warming emissions, and accelerating the research and educational efforts to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate.

The pledge came with Rasch's signing of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, joining the leaders of 449 other institutions across the country.

"Global warming is a defining challenge of our time," said Rasch. "Human activities are responsible for the problem, and working together, we have the capacity to solve the problem. That means taking serious action today to stop adding global warming pollution to the atmosphere. Western is committed to leading the way."

Western Vice President of Finance and Operations Mike Pieper serves as the chair of the college's sustainability task force, which is creating a comprehensive institutional action plan to move toward climate neutrality. In addition, in the short term, Western will be taking the following concrete actions:

• Adopting green standards for buildings;
• Requiring ENERGY STAR certification for products purchased by the college;
• Offsetting emissions due to air travel;
• Encouraging public transportation;
• Purchasing energy from renewable sources; and
• Supporting climate and sustainability shareholder proposals through their endowment.

According to Pieper, the college is also determining how to extend this effort into the community. Possible options include offering ertificate, degree, and lifelong learning courses that encourage eco-friendly behaviors. "Many people in the community want to help improve the environment, but aren't sure what actions to take," said Pieper. "We want to be a resource for those people to show them what they can do."

The Presidents Climate Commitment is the first such effort by any major sector of society to set climate neutrality -- not just a reduction -- as its target. This undertaking by America's colleges and universities is inspired by efforts like the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and other collective efforts by states and businesses.

"Colleges and universities must lead the effort to reverse global warming for the health and well-being of current and future generations," said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University and a founding member of the ACUPCC Leadership Circle. "On behalf of all the signatories, I welcome Lee Rasch to the commitment. We are honored and pleased to have him join us."

The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth¡¦s climate. Under the guidance and direction of the Leadership Circle of presidents, the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment is being supported and implemented by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Second Nature, and ecoAmerica.

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