In Press


The effort is part of a national campaign to get college campuses off fossil fuels

Last month, we wrote about Metro Councilmember Freddie O’Connell’s goal of shifting Metro to 100 percent renewable energy, among other initiatives that he describes as effectively a “green New Deal” for Nashville.

Now a similar mission is underway at Vanderbilt University. Students there have launched an effort, in conjunction with a national campaign backed by Environment America, to abandon the fossil fuels that drive climate change and move to 100 percent renewable energy use.

“As students, we have the most to lose from climate change and air pollution — this is an issue we can all get behind regardless of background or beliefs,” said Vandy senior Nathan Iyer in a press release announcing the campaign last week. “Climate change is a massive issue that requires massive change — it’s sometimes hard to know what you can meaningfully do. We were able to get way more signatures than expected and actually ran out of petitioning paper at one point. We saw incredible amounts of support.”

At a campus with around 6,800 people, the release says students quickly collected 1,400 petition signatures. It also notes that the school has already taken some steps toward using more renewable energy “including the installation of a solar heating array on the top of their tennis center” and a $100,000 fund for student sustainability projects.

We checked in with the administration at Vanderbilt for comment on the campaign. They appear to be supportive, based on this statement from Eric Kopstain, vice chancellor for administration:

We are aware of student support behind bringing renewable energy to the university and over the past year have invited students from Vanderbilt Student Government, SPEAR and other groups on campus to participate on advisory committees and in brainstorming sessions on this issue. Representatives from the university’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Office also have been meeting at least monthly with the leadership of VSG and SPEAR to discuss student interests and initiatives around sustainability.

We are carefully evaluating, with the help of expert consultants, the feasibility, benefits and challenges of renewable energy as an opportunity for our campus. You can find out more about our Large-Scale Renewable Energy Study and BlueSky Energy Study here.

We are currently reviewing the advisory committee reports and will be determining next steps later this semester.

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