Our nation remains divided on many important national issues, and much is uncertain, but amid the turbulence, the University of Maryland has remained faithful to one key commitment: sustainability.
Recently, two projects aiming to improve our school’s sustainable infrastructure and reduce our carbon footprint have made the spotlight.
The first project, set to begin next summer, plans to cover three parking garages on the campus with solar canopies. Solar canopies are a collection of solar panels, suspended like a canopy, over the structures. The installation comes with no upfront costs as the university will enter a contract to purchase solar power from the installation company over the next 20 years. While the total costs for this project are still unclear, this 20-year commitment reflects this university’s dedication to shift to more sustainable energy sources.
Meanwhile, another proposal by the sustainability office to reduce carbon emissions is currently undergoing an approval process. In 2009, this university set forth a vision to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2020. While it’s difficult to remove all sources of carbon emissions from the campus, the sustainability office proposed a plan to counteract these emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets, which will fund organizations working to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. If the plan is implemented, it will involve mandatory payment by the university to offset its carbon emissions, and offer individuals the opportunity to purchase their own carbon offsets through the Department of Transportation Services.
Both projects are in their nascent stages. Construction of the solar canopies hasn’t begun yet and the carbon offset plan hasn’t even been formally approved by the Office of Sustainability, nor has it been presented to university President Wallace Loh. However, this editorial board still commends the university for these initiatives.
In a nation where our president-elect indicated in 2012 that climate change is a hoax fabricated by the Chinese, it is now more important than ever for us to remain devoted to creating a greener community.
About 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real, and its consequences for this planet are extreme. But, Donald Trump’s views and policies are especially concerning for Marylanders. A Diamondback story last week mentioned how a lack of Environmental Protection Agency regulations under Trump would increase the amount of pollution flowing from the various states within the Chesapeake Bay watershed into the bay.
While we cannot control the policy decisions of our president-elect, there are other ways our voices can be heard. Last week, Loh encouraged students to “protest the policies, the actions of the next president.” Our efforts to make this campus more sustainable do exactly this — they protest the policies of our next president. Despite what this nation’s highest office might rather have us believe, this university has shown it is committed to sustainability and ensuring we preserve the well-being of this planet for future generations.