Council proposes environmental reform

The Yale College Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a proposal that calls for specific environmental reforms that could save the University millions of dollars.

YCC Treasurer Andrew Cedar ’06, one of the proposal’s authors, said the document suggests several avenues to increase energy efficiency and usage of cleaner energy sources. It also calls for the establishment of a “revolving door fund” that would funnel some savings from greater efficiency into other environmental causes.

The proposal, co-authored by Judith Joffe-Block ’04 and Andrew Kroon ’04, includes six main programs: a conservation pilot program to be implemented in a few University buildings, an undergraduate conservation effort, a commitment to building greener buildings, a building and grounds standing committee, the purchase of renewable “green” energy sources like wind and solar power, and the revolving door fund.

Cedar said the proposal will be presented to three Yale Corporation members today and Levin in January.

YCC President Elliott Mogul ’05 said he thinks the University will accept some parts of the proposal now and will eventually adopt all of them. The purchase of green energy could take the University longer to accept because of its costs, Mogul said.

But Mogul said he thinks the net savings from the proposals will be too attractive for the University to turn down.

“Most of the proposals end up saving the University money,” Mogul said.

Assistant to the President Nina Glickson said financial concerns may prove to be the biggest obstacle in the University’s consideration of the proposals.

“In many ways, the cost factor would be the biggest challenge,” Glickson said.

The pilot program would use software to monitor and improve energy efficiency in buildings. Cedar said it would likely be implemented in Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges, Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center and Luce Hall.

The undergraduate effort would consist of an environmental information session during freshman orientation, a University-subsidized light bulb exchange in which students could get free fluorescent bulbs in exchange for their incandescent bulbs, and a “Conservation Cup” — similar to the Green Cup — to reward colleges for energy conservation.

Cedar said a 10 percent reduction of energy usage, which he thinks is realistic, would save the University $4.5 million annually based on 2001-2 energy costs. He said this figure is “nowhere near” the costs of proposed programs, such as purchasing green energy for the University and light bulbs for students. Even the light bulbs, he said, would eventually save the University money because of their higher energy efficiency.

These savings, Cedar said, could be crucial in getting the University to accept the proposal.

“The concern, generally, with environmental improvement is not that we don’t support the principles, but that we often don’t have the money,” Cedar said.

Some of the savings from the added efficiency, Cedar said, should be given to the colleges or buildings that conserve. Cedar said he understands that the University may want to keep some savings, but that giving back part of the money would be an incentive to conservation, and therefore save more money.

University President Richard Levin asked for the proposal, Cedar said, but it might be “a little more than he asked for.”

Cedar said he thought all of the proposed changes were “reasonable” and that the University can choose any or all of the programs. He said Yale is “way behind” other Ivy League schools in terms of environmental efficiency.

“I think that it’s time to catch up,” Cedar said.

The Central Power Plant is located at 18 Ashmun Street. The Yale College Council unanimously approved a proposal Wednesday calling for six environmental reforms.
Zoe Pershing-Foley
The Central Power Plant is located at 18 Ashmun Street. The Yale College Council unanimously approved a proposal Wednesday calling for six environmental reforms.

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