Campus News

New organization aims to help UW-Madison transition to clean energy

Leah Johnson, ASM's Sustainability Chair, is helping with the events.

Image By: Brandon Moe

After UW-Madison faculty recently adopted a measure calling for administration to implement a carbon neutral policy by 2050, some students on campus are hoping to continue the energy push.

The new umbrella organization CLEAN — Campus Leaders for Environmental Action Now — wants UW-Madison to commit to using only renewable energy by 2030.

The organization comprises of leaders from various environmental student organizations on campus such as the Sierra Student Coalition, Associated Students of Madison and the Climate Reality Project.

Kendl Kobbervig, Sierra Student Coalition Chair and CLEAN co-founder, said these different groups came together because they all had one unifying goal — to fill what they saw as a gap in advocating for clean energy.

“I think this model works really well because it makes sure that everyone has an equal say,” she said.

Kobbervig said CLEAN is working towards making UW-Madison a 100 percent renewable energy institution by 2030.

CLEAN, which was formed last spring, is not a registered student organization. This is so the group can recruit and work with non-UW-Madison community members, according to Cara Nastali, a CLEAN member.

“By not registering as an official student organization, CLEAN can be open to community members and even faculty who want to get involved with this project,” she said.

The organization plans not only to advocate for renewable energy, but also help the university work towards the group’s goals. Leah Johnson, Associated Students of Madison Sustainability Chair and CLEAN co-founder, said the organization plans to present the university with research they’ve done about the best ways to transition to sustainable energy use.

She said some CLEAN members will be participating in Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s online courses, which teach students how to bring solar panels and renewable energy to campuses.

Johnson emphasized that CLEAN is willing to work with the university administration through assessments of UW-Madison’s sustainability efforts and by creating a framework for a renewable energy plan.

According to UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone, UW-Madison has already invested $63 million in energy conservation projects within the last decade, which have significantly reduced the campus’ energy footprint.

She said the university also has sustainability initiatives in place that could make UW-Madison’s total renewable use above 40 percent by 2030.

Johnson, however, said she thinks this effort is not enough.

“I think [40 percent renewable energy use] is a good benchmark, but more can be done,” Johnson said. “40 percent is awesome, but we still want to go further.”

CLEAN is an opportunity for students to have a united voice in support of clean energy use on campus, according to Johnson.

“It’s important for us to voice that this is something that we care about,” she said. “The administration will listen to us if we can get enough support behind it.”

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