Students should step up to boost ‘green’ rating

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    It’s a bad grade for TCU. The university should have at least deserved a better grade than a D-plus.

    According to the 2008 U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings, TCU made a D-plus on the 2008 College Sustainability Report Card. How could TCU receive such a bad grade when the school looks eco-friendly with purple bikes and bags and the university’s efforts toward building energy efficient buildings?

    According to an August 27 Skiff story, Chancellor Victor Boschini signed an agreement under the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment for a higher energy efficient and sustainable school. According to this agreement, all new buildings are required to comply with Leadership Energy in Environmental Design silver standards, which go beyond basic LEED certification. The new Brown-Lupton Student Union is already an example to this. Also, this agreement will help in the reduction of the greenhouse gases.

    TCU also has the current semester theme as “Think Purple, Live Green.”

    Recently, a sociology professor teamed up with an engineering professor to develop solar-powered carts. Keith Whitworth and Bill Diong’s cart can absorb solar energy, which can be used to power applications like a piano keyboard.

    It looks like the school is doing a lot on its part to be more sustainable, but still we have a D-plus grade. Let’s see what we can do now.

    Our first step can definitely be stepping out on the streets. Instead of using our cars, we can bike or even hike to class. The Purple Bikes are a great effort by TCU to reduce carbon emission. But are we ready to give up driving in our air-conditioned cars? We don’t have to literally give up driving, but how about for a day? And if you don’t feel like riding a bike, how about walking an extra mile to class or consider carpooling for one day out of the week? This would certainly help the school go a little greener.

    How about going vegan for a day? According to a story in the Guardian published in September by environment editor Juilette Jowit, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, which of course is bad for the environment. As mentioned in the story, Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has urged people to have one meat-free day a week to tackle climate change. I think we can certainly do this. How about a meatless diet in all the dining facilities in TCU for a day? It isn’t that difficult to do.

    We can certainly give up our supplement of bottled water for a day to be a little more eco-friendly. The plastic bottles for the water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). According to a study by the World Watch, a sustainability magazine, the manufacture of one kilogram of PET, which is enough to make about 17 bottles of 1.5 liter bottles, releases 40 grams of hydrocarbons, 25 grams of sulfur oxides, 18 grams of carbon monoxide, 20 grams of nitrogen oxides and 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide. How much harm could 17 of us drinking bottled water a day do to the environment? We can skip it for a day and show our solidarity toward sustainability.

    If taking a course on sustainability helps, then we might as well take that course; or why not make it one of the core courses at TCU? A course on sustainability under the sociology department called “Sustainability is Sexy” is a good way to learn about the environmental issues and act on them. According to a November Skiff story, Whitworth said students in the course will “measure the environmental footprint of the university.” It would certainly be a good way to learn about the environmental impacts we have on the school and how to help overcome them.

    The time just looks right. The school is doing everything in its part to go green, and now it’s our chance to show our support. We don’t have to follow the 10 rules to go green; just a single effort for a day would help. This way, we can definitely boost up our school’s sustainability grade for next year.

    Bibek Bhindari is a senior international communication major from Kathmandu, Nepal.