Students in Heath Moody’s “Issues in Sustainability” and “Introductory to Sustainability” classes have decided to offset the carbon they will be using during class this semester.
They are also challenging other classes on campus to do the same and hope to extend the challenge to other colleges and universities in the area.
The WNC Green Building Council has a program called Appalachian Offsets, which allows the class to offset their carbon use. “Carbon offsets are pollution equivalents that can be purchased, thereby resulting in the reduction of carbon-dioxide pollution in the atmosphere,” said Moody, Chair of Construction Management, Building Science and Sustainability Technologies at A-B Tech.
“For example, if you purchase carbon offsets, your money is used to fund a public project such as solar system or maybe an energy-efficiency upgrade that supports a local school or non-profit. Not only does this help reduce carbon emissions in WNC but also helps some of the same businesses that students in our program may end up working with after they graduate.”
Both of Moody’s classes use a carbon calculator at cutmycarbon.org that can be used to determine carbon use which includes lights, projector, computers, and the students’ commutes. “We first determined ways to initially reduce class energy usage,” Moody said. “One way to do this was by only using half of the lights in the classroom. Even with only a couple of windows, we felt there was plenty of light so we were able to only use half of the light bulbs in our calculation. After working through the calculations, we basically determined that our class was going to generate less than 2.5 tons of carbon over the course of the semester. This cost us a little less than $50.”
“We felt that this was a small action that we could do to lessen the overall carbon footprint of the college. We hope that the college will eventually incorporate more renewable energy and other sustainability technologies that would lessen the overall carbon footprint of A-B Tech. We would like to take it even further and have UNC Asheville and other colleges join us,” said Matt Buswell, Sustainability Technologies student.
Moody’s classes have a sticker and certificate to display in the classroom, showing their commitment to reducing their carbon use. “Classes can become empowered by this small positive action. The idea is that our small actions becomes bigger actions as we initiate this carbon challenge to the rest of campus,” Moody said.