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WMU Measures Its Own Carbon Footprint

Sehvilla Mann

Western Michigan University is working on a new, detailed study of its carbon emissions, the first in several years. The school’s latest greenhouse gas inventory will look at major factors such as commuting and generating power. It will also account for impacts from solid waste and even from student air travel for study-abroad programs.

Its scope is expanding. “We’re adding in food,” says WMU Office for Sustainability Director Jeff Spoelstra.

“Food was the one that sort of came forward this time, like ‘Oh we never did that one in the past,’ so we’ll see what that looks like this year.

“Elements of food go into waste or compost or other places, so there’s a greenhouse gas emissions component to food as well, something that we haven’t calculated in the past,” Spoelstra said.

The university has set a goal of going carbon neutral by 2065, but Spoelstra says a recent United Nations report shows the urgency of hitting that target as soon as possible.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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