By Carly Flandro
Idaho Education News, Aug. 15, 2022
Starting today, Idaho State University will be working toward a new goal: carbon neutrality.
This school year, the university will collect data on its carbon footprint, install solar power on its residence hall rooftops, add electric vehicle charging stations on campus, and transition the university fleet to electric vehicles. There will also be a focus on recycling and composting.
President Kevin Satterlee announced the changes in his fall address at Idaho State’s Frazier Hall on Monday morning to the applause of about 800 staffers, faculty, students, and community members who packed the auditorium.
“As of today, Idaho State University starts our journey towards a lower impact on our environment,” Satterlee said. “It won’t be simple or easy. But we’ll be able to achieve it, even though it is hard.”
In his address, Satterlee also characterized education as essential to a stable democracy, and said he will implement an “all-in,” campus-wide challenge that aims to foster nonpartisan civic engagement and civil public discourse.
Satterlee also touted the university’s accomplishments: creating a set of campus-wide values and a board-approved strategic plan; earning reaccreditation last year; improving student retention and achieving greatness during an especially challenging last few years.
Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad attended the speech and said afterward that he was excited about the goals Satterlee described.
“He laid out a number of great opportunities and I have every bit of confidence that we’ll be able to accomplish them,” Blad said. “If the university succeeds, the community succeeds.”
Students sparked the move toward carbon neutrality
Sustainability is “critically important to our students, and to our world. I know this because our students ask me about this more than any other topic,” Satterlee said. “Our students are demanding action and leadership on this issue.”
He wants to be able to tell all incoming students that their residence halls are powered by the sun, and that living on campus has a lower impact on the environment than living off campus.
When students ask where to plug in their electric vehicles, he wants to be able to point to on-campus charging stations – which he says will be installed this fall.
And he wants to be able to measure the university’s carbon footprint. This school year, data will be collected and used to develop “impactful and realistically achievable ways to move forward on a carbon-neutrality goal.”
The news came as a surprise to Kristi Olson, the university’s information technology security director, who was in the audience.
“I’m excited about the sustainability objectives,” she said. “We all want to do our part to lessen our impact.”
Renae Scott, the university’s chief information officer, said she is getting a hybrid car and is looking forward to being able to charge it on campus.