Northern Michigan University is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and the task force dedicated to realizing that goal is seeking campus input on the draft plan for how to get there. While NMU has already reduced its carbon footprint by more than 30% since 2010 and has one of the smallest footprints among the state's public universities, it is striving for further reductions. Remaining information sessions on the plan are scheduled at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16 (via Zoom), and 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in Jamrich 1322. A flipbook and feedback survey are also available online.
"This is our initial plan and it is a living plan; it will require ongoing refinement as technology and funding opportunities shift,” said Jes Thompson, professor and member of the NMU Carbon Neutrality Task Force. “We want input from the campus community on this draft, but also as we continue the journey to decarbonize our campus."
Carbon is one of the leading greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Achieving neutrality requires that any carbon emissions from NMU into the atmosphere is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed. According to the draft, NMU will progress toward that outcome via three targets: reducing emissions by another 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2040, then eliminating remaining emissions by 2050.
NMU has identified five key strategies for achieving its goal: reduced energy use; optimized infrastructure to minimize operational costs and emissions; a “right size” campus physical footprint to maximize use and efficiency of new and existing spaces; renewable energy investments; and increased carbon sequestration on university land.
The latter will be aided by NMU's location within the vast and relatively intact Northern Forest ecoregion. In addition to nearly 360 acres on its main campus, the university owns 511 acres of surrounding forest and fields. Carbon can be “captured” or fixed in place naturally by trees, soil, grasslands and oceans. The USDA Forest Service reports that, in one year, a mature live tree can absorb “more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is permanently stored in its fibers until the tree or wood experiences a physical event that releases it into the atmosphere, like fire or decomposition.”