Takeaways from the Central Michigan Climate Solutions Summit
The Central Michigan Climate Solutions summit opened a dialog about necessary changes to curb the advances of climate change.
This was the first joint collaborative effort between Central Michigan University and the greater Mount Pleasant community. The summit proposed initiatives and possible solutions to benefit both the community and the university.
CMU coordinator and sociology faculty member Elizabeth Bradshaw and Community coordinator and President of the Mount Pleasant Citizens’ Climate Lobby Marie Koper guided and facilitated the event. The two met back in April of 2019 when they participated in a panel on climate change hosted by the Student Environment Alliance. The duo reconnected again in Sept. of 2019 and came up with the idea for a climate solutions discussion.
"Marie proposed the idea of a Summit and we began recruiting people at CMU and in Mount Pleasant to get involved in the planning process, which became the CMCSS Planning Committee," Bradshaw said. "Since then, we’ve met biweekly, and at times weekly, to plan and organize the Summit.
Bradshaw oversaw most of the organizing on campus, including sponsorships, promotion and participants for the CMU panel.
Participants for the CMU panel discussion, included President Davies, Director of Facilities Operations Jay Kahn, Professor of Environmental Engineering Goksel Demirer and sophomore Chloe Majeske.
Davies said the need to keep the university updated with new remodels to promote environmental sustainability as well as setting the expectation of receiving a gold rating from Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).
"We are beginning to go through campus looking at our HVAC systems to make sure they are more energy-efficient those systems are very very old and it's important that we upgrade those," Davies said. "All of these require an investment and that upfront expense does pay off."
The Mount Pleasant community panel included Mayor Will Joseph, Green Tree Grocery worker Laura Coffee, City Manager Nancy Ridley, Mount Pleasant Citizens' Climate Lobby Volunteer Emily Zoet and co-founder of Trees NOW Isabella Dr. James Hageman.
Koper, who was in charge of connecting with community members and businesses, including sponsorships, promotion, and participants for the community panel said working for the summit was a varied experience, but still rewarding.
"Seeking out community members and businesses for the summit was a mixed experience," Koper said. "Many were supportive but felt too busy to participate. Some were perhaps reluctant to participate because of political reservations. Overall though, the majority of people understand that we need to address climate change and want to know how to do it effectively."
Mount Pleasant Mayor William Joseph provided an overview of how the city of Mount Pleasant serves its community in terms of sustainability and meet the needs of addressing climate change. Joseph said the approach was more centered on utilizing non-motorized transportation and incentivizing residents to ride their bikes or walking to make the experience more enjoyable.
"The city currently has over 90 miles of sidewalks and is expanding and replacing every year to make walking routes available and enjoyable," said Joseph.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Andy Hoffman, a professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, wrapped up the summit by discussing the overlapping characteristics of the business sector and environmental change. He suggested small changes in people's everyday lives such as changing to LED lights, shopping locally and organically if possible, and switching from driving to riding a bike to reduce gas emissions.