The Green Science subcommittee of the Office of Sustainability is spearheading a project to track and offset carbon emissions from Environmental Science department field trips over the last two years.

Kyra Wolf, the Office of Sustainability intern for Academics, is the co-chair of the Green Science subcommittee and has been in charge of creating the program. “It was mostly me looking through the records of the use of vehicles and calculating the miles driven for Environmental Science department programs, and then calculating the carbon,” said Kyra.

This pilot project with Environmental Science will hopefully be the beginning of a trend toward calculating and offsetting carbon emissions for other departments.

“We found that over the last two years, the department emitted about two metric tons of carbon through driving,” said Wolf. With this pilot project, the plan is to simply counterbalance this with carbon offsets from the carbon offsets market.

However, Wolf and Office of Sustainability Manager Ian Johnson hope that the carbon will not always be offset through purchases.

“Hopefully in the next few years, there will be local projects started by CC that will contribute to the offsets, “ said Wolf. “That’s something to look forward to in the next few years, but for now we just have the pilot project.”

The Office of Sustainability in collaboration with the Green Science subcommittee also wants to expand the use of these carbon offsets beyond the academic departments.

“Eventually, we are hoping to start a pool of funds for sustainable projects that would provide carbon offsets,” said Johnson. Ideally, both departments and students interested in offsetting their block breaks or trips back to school would contribute to these funds.

Johnson continued, “Two metric tons, in the scheme of things, is not much carbon.” This means that there is not enough to offset to pursue more substantial projects. Once other departments are added to the project, however, there will be more resources to start comprehensive and local projects.”

If carbon outputs from field trips and fieldwork campus-wide were offset, it would make a significant contribution to CC’s greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the score of the school in the STARS auditing system.

This is not the only program which the Green Science lab is involved with. Wolf is also in collaboration with Mark Wilson in the Organismal Biology and Ecology Department to do an audit of his labs. “There are several non-profits that provide helpful checklists for creating a green lab,” said Wolf.

Wolf and Wilson have been using these lists to assess biology labs and attempt to make them more sustainable. Wolf hopes that this project will be more widely used in the science departments.

Additionally, Wolf has been working with the Office of Sustainability on funds that will allow science departments to buy new sustainable equipment.

“Right now, the department pays for their equipment through their own funds,” said Wolf. “This means that it is very difficult for them to buy new equipment that is less impactful.”

A fund through the Office of Sustainability will hopefully be established by the end of the year to provide these funds.

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