Frostburg State University Recognized for Climate Leadership

Frostburg State University receives Second Nature’s 2nd Annual Climate Leadership Award. Award recipients were recognized at the 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Washington, DC on June 23rd, hosted by George Washington

Frostburg State University (FSU) President Jonathan Gibralter’s long-time commitment to sustainability has led to leadership roles in organizations at both the state and national levels, including ACUPCC’s Leadership Circle and 2011-2012 Steering Committee, the 2007-2008 Maryland Commission on Climate Change Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Mitigation Working Group and the 2010 Second Nature National Transportation Policy Task Force. His knowledge from these experiences has helped him identify opportunities for FSU, and his advocacy has served as an inspiration and a call to action to the FSU campus.

FSU’s success in making sustainability a central part of its identity and educational mission is best conveyed by the name of its sustainability initiative, “Learning Green, Living Green (LGLG).” The institution has taken a comprehensive, holistic approach to addressing climate change that has involved everything from expanding its academic offerings to helping students understand how their daily activities impact the environment.

LGLG and a faculty-led Sustainability Studies Committee, which oversees FSU’s interdisciplinary sustainability studies minor, have spearheaded a variety of activities that focus on environmental education. Each spring as part of Earth Week, LGLG hosts Focus Frostburg, a day of learning on sustainability that brings together the entire campus community. In 2010, attendance exceeded 1,000, with over 20 presentations and exhibits. Recent events include standing-room-only lectures by environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill and Ethan Nuss, field director of the Energy Action Coalition, and community screenings of the films “GasLand” and “Shale Gas and America’s Future,” two documentaries on natural gas drilling, an issue that is shaping Western Maryland’s future.

E=(LG)2 is an example of how FSU faculty have successfully incorporated sustainability into the classroom. Advised by a faculty member from the English department, E=(LG)2 is the only known magazine on sustainability that is 100 percent written and edited by college students. Student involvement is also evident in FSU’s annual participation in the national RecycleMania competition, with a 600 percent increase from 2008 to 2010 in total recyclables collected for the competition. In 2010, FSU received a RecycleMania Award of Excellence for placing seventh nationally in the competition’s paper recycling category.

FSU is home to a wind-solar-energy system and offers renewable energy workshops to its community; it is now building a Sustainable Energy Research Facility–or SERF–with grants from the Department of Energy. SERF will be a green, self-sufficient, off-the-grid building, and will further position FSU as a national resource on renewable energy research and education. FSU has also demonstrated climate leadership through its infrastructure; for example, it purchased over 15 percent of total electricity annually from renewable sources in 2008 and 2010, along with putting in place an Energy Star purchasing policy. To offset the expected growth in emissions from new construction and continue its commitment to sustainability, FSUs goal is to ensure that all new buildings are constructed to LEED-silver specifications or higher.