It is no coincidence that the first public event for Staunton Green 2020 — a local group dedicated to creating green jobs and energy conservation — was held on the Mary Baldwin University campus. The Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement was a fitting venue for community residents and college students to discuss a local movement to impact the health of the planet, combining civic and global pursuits.
As one of the city’s largest employers and residential communities, Mary Baldwin accounts for a big part of the city’s energy usage, and, therefore, can make a significant impact in energy reduction. Several Mary Baldwin faculty and staff are already leaders in the Staunton Green 2020 organization.
The event in early February also marked the college’s participation in the National Teach-In on Global Warming, broadcast by nearly 750 colleges, universities, and civic organizations. Video clips highlighted the seriousness of the world’s environmental issues and President Obama’s proposals for addressing those issues and sparked lively discussion.
Solutions will not be easy or immediate, but Bruce Dorries, assistant professor of communication, was confident that “the talent needed is in this room, and potential allies are everywhere.”
The goal of Staunton Green 2020 is to reduce energy consumption in Staunton by 20 percent and produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The group’s hope is that momentum will stimulate the local economy by creating green jobs. The group needs as many signatures as possible on its petition to convince City Council to create a green task force to conduct energy audits and look into the use of green technology. Many Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff have added their names to the list at www.stauntongreen2020.org.
Other highlights of the meeting:
- One of the potential allies mentioned by Mary Baldwin Professor Bruce Dorries, who is also a member of the Staunton Green 2020 steering committee, is recent Mary Baldwin graduate Alison Kaufmann ’07, energy conservation specialist at Dominion Virginia Power. Check out Kaufmann’s blog at https://e-conserve.blogspot.com/2008/06/about-alison.html.
- Several examples of green efforts already underway locally were given, including geothermal heating in use at Shenandoah Spring Water facilities in Staunton, and at least one Augusta County resident who is working to move completely to solar energy.
- Waynesboro resident Chris Graham emphasized the need for cooperation and sharing resources for going green between Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.
- Bruce Elder, Staunton City councilman, added that “Staunton City Council is being proactive and is aware and supportive of many green initiatives regionally and nationally.” He gave several examples of the city’s activity, including: participation with the Virginia Municipal League and its environmental initiatives; dramatic energy reductions by Staunton City schools for 2007–08; supporting a solar panel bond issue; and recognizing that moving materials by rail is up to 20 times more energy efficient efficient (and reduces traffic on I-81).