Until very recently at the “Let’s Talk About Climate Change” event, I had no idea that so many of Mason’s sustainability programs stemmed from the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment signed in 2007. I was aware that this commitment hoped to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, but its tangible impacts are far more impressive.
These commitments include all Mason buildings meeting the silver standard of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This includes extensive recycling practices, cleaner air filtration systems, and energy-efficient design. The Cue bus and Mason shuttles also sprung from this commitment, in addition to other incentives for students and faculty to utilize alternative transportation. Mason also participates in mandatory reporting every two years to measure Mason’s emissions, but also access academic programs that discuss sustainability.
The Office of Sustainability was established as part of this commitment. According to our dear friend Roger, the Office of Sustainability serves as a “bridge between facilities, so what’s happening on the operational side of campus, and the student life aspect.” This office works to host events, work with sustainable academic programs and create internship opportunities.Without Mason’s formal commitment to climate neutrality, our LLC, Earth Month events, and other outreach programs may not have existed.
The Patriot Green Fund (PGF) was also created as a result of Mason’s commitment to climate neutrality. This program allocates $100,000 for research and infrastructure projects on campus. Projects that I had previously assumed were sponsored by Mason itself were actually projects through the PGF. These include the Innovation Food Forest, Piedmont Rain Garden (shout-out to Julie), eWaste Collection in the Johnson Center and the Hydroponic Greenhouse at President’s Park.
Though we have been lucky enough to enjoy these programs all year, past Mason students have not. It is amazing what Mason and its students have been able to accomplish in less than a decade.