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Concordia signs on to climate commitment pledge

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Concordia College has been working to reduce food waste in its cafeteria - in part with an education campaign for the students there. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

MOORHEAD—Concordia College is signing a pledge obligating it to the Integrated Climate Commitment, which means working toward a long-term goal of emitting no carbon.

Signing the pledge Tuesday, April 11, meant Concordia will join more than 600 American college and university campuses in the Climate Leadership Network.

"It pledges the campus to develop a plan with hard targets for reducing carbon emissions," said Ken Foster, an associate professor of political science and chairman of the President's Sustainability Council at Concordia.

Concordia has been working on campus environmental initiatives for a decade—aiming to reduce food waste, for instance—but is now embarking on a more ambitious effort, Foster said.

At a signing ceremony Tuesday, Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams said its the latest in a tradition of green projects at Concordia.

"I've often met with Concordia students when they're doing projects, and it almost always has to do with sustainability," she said. 

The climate commitment is spearheaded by Second Nature, an organization that works with college campuses to demonstrate leadership in achieving environmental sustainability.

"What they do is kind of hold us accountable," Foster said.

Concordia will work on a plan over the next two years aimed at achieving carbon neutrality and community resilience, an ability to adapt to climate change.

"We're going to need to ramp up our use of renewable energy," Foster said, estimating that half of Concordia's electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants. The campus also will have to work to reduce consumption of energy.

In the first year of the initiative, Concordia will conduct an energy audit of the campus, with an eye installing energy-efficient LED, or light-emitting diode lighting. It also can establish more conservative energy standards, with higher indoor temperatures in summer and cooler temperatures in winter.

"That saves a huge amount of energy and carbon," Foster said.

It's too early to estimate how long it would take for Concordia to attain carbon neutrality, he said. It likely would require further technological advances.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to