On Wednesday, Sept. 20, the West Chester Borough Council voted to consider the “Ready for 100” plan for approval. The plan, petitioned by the Sierra Club and the Borough Council Sustainability Committee, proposes for the West Chester Borough to transition into a 100 percent clean and renewable energy city by 2050. West Chester University’s campus sustainability initiatives, though not directly related, coincide with the borough’s goals.
Dianne Herrin, member of the Borough Sustainability Committee and candidate for Mayor of West Chester stated, “West Chester University has a goal to be carbon-neutral by 2025, and we will be recommending in our proposed plan to Borough Council that we work closely with the university to achieve our shared goals. Students will play a very key role in this and can do a lot to help us achieve it.”
Considering West Chester University’s location in the borough, the proposal has the potential to impact both campus sustainability efforts and students.
By 2035, the “Ready for 100” objective is to power West Chester’s electricity through clean energy. By 2050, heat and transportation energy are expected to follow suit. Many cities such as Allentown and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have already pledged to fulfill this goal, and West Chester is the 45th city to take on the initiative.
Jim Wylie, a representative from the Southeastern PA group of the Sierra Club involved in the proposal expressed his eagerness to enact change; “The exciting thing about clean renewable energy like wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, bio, etc. is that it gives us a chance to advocate for solutions—instead of whining about problems,” he said.
West Chester University has been implementing sustainable practices in many areas including transportation, dining, purchasing and energy conservation, among others.
50 percent of the buildings on campus are temperature controlled using geothermal energy and the coal-fired boiler plant, located near Lawrence Dining Hall in 2014, was decommissioned illustrating the efficiency of campus geothermal initiatives. Classroom lights automatically turn off when not in use and computers shut down or sleep after inactivity—these are observable sustainability practices at work.
Bradley Flamm, director of sustainability on West Chester’s campus speaks to the relationship between borough efforts and current practices at the university, “there is not a direct connection in that the university has not worked to get that resolution passed by council . . . but anything we do on our campus to reduce our use of electricity contributes to the borough because our electricity consumption is part of what the borough as a whole has to account for.”
According to Flamm, the university’s overarching goal is to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint as much as possible. Similar to the borough’s timeline, the university is committed to carbon neutrality by 2025 and its Climate Action Plan. The plan entails 60 distinct climate-related goals. The goals are outlined on the Office of Sustainability webpage.
Flamm encourages students to get involved in a variety of different ways. He suggests joining campus organizations like the Slow Food Club and the E.A.R.T.H Club. October is Campus Sustainability Month, and the Office of Sustainability is hosting a variety of environmentally focused events including a film series.
Both he and Herrin also recommend attending Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC) meetings which occur once per month and offer students, staff and concerned community members time to voice their opinions about the direction of sustainability efforts.
Sarah Kratz is a fourth-year student majoring in English writings track with a minor in sociology. She can be reached at SK822925@wcupa.edu.
Danielle Craven is a fourth-year student majoring in communications studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at DC829943@wcupa.edu.