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Student-led Green EDGE Fund Focuses on Carbon Offsetting Initiative

Nov. 13, 2012

Liv Combe

Sela Miller '15

This semester, environmentally minded students are all about reducing Oberlin’s carbon footprint in one of the simplest ways — planting trees.

The Oberlin College Green Ecological Design and General Efficiency Fund is a student-led organization that supports college and community projects moving Oberlin toward a more efficient and sustainable future. The group’s Carbon Offsetting Initiative is a new focus, inspired by the Board of Trustees’ pledge to bring the college to carbon neutrality by 2025.

Over this past weekend, Tappan Square became home to an additional 26 trees, thanks to funding from the Green EDGE Fund and the Student Finance Committee. Just one week earlier, on Friday, Nov. 2, the Green EDGE Fund’s grant to the Oberlin Rotary Club allowed them to plant 30 saplings as a part of the club’s 75th anniversary celebration.

“This project is of interest to the group because of the potential for the trees that are planted to sequester carbon, and to serve as a model in a highly visible location for future carbon offset programs that could be undertaken,” says Jordan Suter, assistant professor of economics and environmental studies and the faculty member of the Green EDGE Fund board.

Planting trees on campus and in the rest of the community is just one aspect of the Carbon Offsetting Initiative, which is the Green EDGE Fund’s main goal this semester.

“The Student Senate’s Environmental Sustainability Working Group has been focusing its efforts on implementing a comprehensive carbon-offsetting program,” says Tani Colbert-Sangree ’13, an environmental studies major, working group chair, and member of the Green EDGE Fund. “While efforts are being made by administration and staff to reduce our overall use of energy and move toward carbon neutrality, a multilateral approach is necessary to achieve this larger goal.”

Additional initiatives on the table include village housing energy retrofitting, the creation of an Oberlin “carbon-offsetting site,” a five to ten acre space used solely for planting additional trees, and the addition of a $10 line item to student term bills to support offsetting carbon emissions from student transportation to and from school. The Green EDGE Fund hopes to meet with the Board of Trustees within the next few months to propose these issues.

For now, the Green EDGE Fund is working on putting “as many trees in the ground as we can,” says Colbert-Sangree. “When we talk to the trustees, we want to be able to show what we’ve done so far, and that we’ll be spending any additional funds in intelligent ways.”

To learn more about the Green EDGE Fund, visit the website.

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