GOSHEN — There’s a new sort of electricity being generated at Goshen College.
GC President Jim Brenneman announced Monday to the applause of students that the campus’ electricity source is now 100 percent green. The college administration is choosing to buy renewable electric certificates from Northern Indiana Public Service Co. instead of the standard coal electric.
“What this means for Goshen College is from this day forward, from today on rather, no more coal, oil or gas will be burned, no more carbon dioxide will be introduced into the atmosphere to provide electricity for Goshen College, our campus,” Brenneman said. “This single action will reduce our carbon profile — our footprint — by approximately 45 percent.”
As a symbolic gesture, he handed NIPSCO Manager of Public Affairs Angela Nelson a large paper copy of a carbon “footprint.” In return, Nelson returned the footprint but turned it over to reveal the footprint was now green.
Nelson told the assembly, “Goshen College is our first major account in our service territory to go 100 percent with this green energy program. So we really, really appreciate that.”
And to show NIPSCO’s support of GC’s energy choice, Nelson presented Brenneman with a $5,000 check to be used for other energy-saving initiatives on campus.
Brenneman is making good on a promise he made in 2007 when he and 175 other higher education leaders signed the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment. The goal was to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions.
GC was the second higher education institution in Indiana to do so. The first was Ball State University.
“We did that because we are very concerned about life on this planet and it was one more way we can care for the world,” Brenneman said.
To the college’s utilities manager, Glenn Gilbert, the idea of neutrality was “crazy talk.” He was skeptical about the practicality of it.
Brenneman named Gilbert the college’s first sustainability director and since then, Gilbert has been charting a course toward a neutral carbon footprint. There have been major transformations at Goshen College since then as priorities were realigned.
Energy and natural gas levels been lowered. Gilbert told the assembly that electrical consumption has dropped back down to 1992 levels even with a 60–percent increase in building square footage. Also natural gas usage is now 25 less than what it was in 1990.
“Green” has been incorporated into academics.
Gilbert told the assembly about the different projects and student initiatives that have taken place, including a geothermal center, a computerized energy monitoring system, adding native landscaping and prairie restoration, a french fry oil-fueled vehicle, composting, the sunshower project, plus community-based projects including monitoring and improving the water quality of the Elkhart River.
Gilbert is a skeptic no more. “I’m proud Goshen College has become a leader in sustainability,” he said.