Students seek carbon-neutral initiatives

Molly Crain

News Editor

This past weekend, three Transylvania students — sophomore Annie Wright, junior Jennifer Lancaster and senior J.P. Peckinpaugh — attended the Clinton Global Initiative University convention in Washington, D.C., in hopes of learning more information on how to create a sustainable energy future for our school.

The student convention, which is like the Clinton Global Initiative but on the university level, aims to “engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses throughout the world,” according the CGI U website. “Each year CGI U hosts a meeting where students, national youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities discuss solutions to pressing social issues.”

Before applying to the convention, Wright, Lancaster and Peckinpaugh were inspired by Transy’s Sustainability Coordinator Angela Dossett, who described to them a hospital in Lacrosse, Wisc., that ran solely on carbon-neutral energy produced from the waste of a local distillery.

Taking the energy plan of the Wisconsin hospital and making it their own, the three began to do research on how they could make connections with distilleries in Lexington. Then, they applied for the CGI U convention, first thinking it was a long shot that they’d get in.

Upon being accepted, Wright, Lancaster and Peckinpaugh met with Dean of Students Michael Vetter to propose their carbon-neutral initiative and gained funding to go to the convention in the process.

“Our project is to pioneer a different form of alternative energy that would push the campus towards becoming carbon-neutral while also creating relationships between Transy and local companies and community players,” said Peckinpaugh. “We are looking into setting up relationships with distilleries in town so that we could support the generation of energy from biogas distillery waste. By purchasing a machine called a Jenbacher, such distilleries could not only power their operations off of their own waste but generate energy for the community at large. We are hoping these relationships and this project will allow Transy to be run off of distillery waste and encourage the use of alternative energy methods that support local businesses and culture.”

Aside from their research, the students had a great time at the convention.

“It was really cool to hear a lot from awesome speakers,” said Wright. “Madeleine Albright was there. Then we got to hear Bill Clinton talk a few times, (and) Jon Stewart.”

“We were given an award … during the campus sustainability working session,” said Wright. “We were one of the two projects to be presented on stage. … And some actress from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ presented our award.”

The three also ended up making some great connections in the process and even saw some familiar faces. When they first arrived, they met up with a group of men from the University of Kentucky who were “starting an organic farm in Eastern Kentucky to show kids how to grow food,” said Peckinpaugh.

Held at George Washington University in the District of Columbia, over 1,200 attendees came together to make a difference in CGI U’s five focus areas of “Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health,” according to CGI U’s website.

“(The convention) gave me a better view of how to solve problems globally,” Peckinpaugh said. “We do need to be more focused on systemic problems, … looking at the bigger picture while focusing on local problems.”

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