Chancellor Brady Deaton announced in an op-ed in December that MU would be “taking steps towards eliminating coal use on our campus.” This Wednesday, Sustainability Coordinator at the University of Missouri, Steve Burdic, reaffirmed the goal and reiterated that it will take time and that we can’t know exactly how fast.
Burdic spoke on the Clean Energy Panel presented by my student group Coal Free Mizzou this Wednesday along with three others. He and the sustainability office are working on a plan to be carbon-neutral as mandated by The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Burdic clarified that MU is looking at that as a plan to move away from coal, although carbon-neutrality does not imply the use of coal. For MU, that is the goal.
Already making headway on that goal, a new biomass boiler is being installed in 2011 to reduce coal use by 25 percent. Jan Weaver, another panelist, pointed out in the Clean Energy Panel the importance of biomass and the responsible ways to obtain biomass. The danger is that we may clear too much forest causing more problems.
Solar power could also be an option based on Jim Pierobon’s suggestion of a power purchasing agreement where MU would not have to spend a dollar to install the panels. They would simply buy the power at a rate close to that for coal-fired power. Pierobon Skyped in to the energy panel from Washington DC where he works in marketing and policy for Standard Solar. Burdic indicated some interest in this idea and made indications that Pierobon and he would talk more about introducing solar energy to MU.
The most important thing that anyone can do until that plan for moving beyond coal is made is being energy efficient. There’s a multitude of ways to improve your carbon footprint. Check out 8 goes green, where KOMU has some tips.