Energy Production and Use General Policy Statement

Energy transformation and use results in a variety of environmental pollutants, having impacts locally, regionally, and globally. Fossil fuels, particularly coal, are the greatest source of energy-related pollution. The principal impacts associated with using fossil fuels are the release of CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere. The scientific consensus is that the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere has already led to undesirable changes in the global climate, including an increase in average land surface temperature and an increasing frequency of storms, floods, and extreme weather events. Without action, the magnitude of climate change is expected to increase. Stabilization of climate is contingent on achieving a state in which CO2 released through human activities is balanced by CO2 removed through biological processes.

Alternative energy sources are receiving increased attention by academic institutions. Within the framework of fossil fuels, the burning of natural gas (CH4) produces the least amount of CO2 per unit of energy. Oil (CH2) is next, and coal (CH) produces the most CO2. The carbon in the fuel becomes CO2; the hydrogen becomes H2O. Another form of gaseous energy, which was once a major component of widely used consumer gas, is hydrogen gas (H2). Many experts expect that hydrogen gas (H2) will become the major stored and distributed source of convertible energy in the not-too-distant future. Sources of "green" energy include solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and wind. Wind and solar energy are the best candidates for the northeastern Ohio region. Rapid developments are occurring in these technologies, which could ease the cost of decreasing the dependence on fossil fuels.

As an institution of higher education, Oberlin has a special obligation to be proactive and responsible in energy management. Oberlin will pursue a long-term goal of reducing energy use and achieving "carbon neutrality" in which the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases through all activities associated with the College is minimized and balanced by activities that remove carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon neutrality is an essential goal for achieving climate stability, but one that may take many years to achieve.

Responsible energy management should take account of environmental costs as well as operational costs. The environmental impact must be evaluated, and the attendant costs considered in decisions regarding campus energy use. The College recognizes that, in some cases, a monetary premium is required to achieve the desired environmental benefits. In the broadest sense, Oberlin College seeks to: implement aggressive conservation strategies that reduce energy use; increase efficiency of electricity and heat production and consumption; shift towards less polluting sources of energy. Oberlin recognizes that technology, energy costs, and knowledge are dynamic, and that a regular reassessment of options and goals is therefore essential to energy management. Many energy conservation measures can be adopted in the short term, but changes in the infrastructure (buildings, heating plant, consumption of electricity) will require long-range planning and large capital investments.

Specific energy conservation practices for various College activities are spelled out within the following sections pertaining to policies specific to grounds, buildings, transportation, and materials stated in the following sections. What follows is a general description of the current status, approaches, and policy recommendations for reducing energy use.

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Your Alternative Fuel Solution for Saving Money, Reducing Oil Dependency, and Helping the Planet. Ethanol is an alternative to gasoline. The use of ethanol has been demonstrated to reduce greenhouse emissions slightly as compared to gasoline. Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know why choosing an alternative fuel may benefit you and your future.

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