Santa Monica College (SMC) President Dr. Chui L. Tsang pledged to fight global warming Thursday, January 31st, by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The announcement, which commits SMC to “achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible,” came at the opening session of the SMC Focus the Nation Teach-In on global warming solutions, which was held at more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

Noting that SMC has already made great strides in sustainability, Tsang said, “I join approximately 500 other college and university presidents nationwide in committing our institutions to a vigorous effort to reduce greenhouse gases and to become ‘climate neutral’ as soon as possible.”

SMC is one of a handful of community colleges statewide that have signed on to the accord. To date, the leaders of 482 of the country’s more than 4,000 colleges and universities have signed the agreement.

“We are proud of our strong commitment to the environment,” Tsang said. “We are getting greener every semester. But this is not enough.”

Tsang pointed to several sustainable achievements at SMC in the past few years, including its transportation initiative. Santa Monica Big Blue Bus officials estimate that students and employees riding their lines, many of which are subsidized by the college and are free to SMC students and employees, has reduced vehicle trips to the campus by an estimated 6,000 a day.

Tsang also cited SMC’s number-one-ranked position among community colleges statewide in its solid waste recycling; its U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification on several construction projects; its environmental curriculum that cuts across disciplines; and its installation of storm water retention systems in locations on the main and satellite campuses.

He also noted that the college recently hired a sustainability coordinator to help implement a comprehensive environmental audit that was released in 2007.

“Today’s action is not just symbolic,” Tsang said. “It holds Santa Monica College to an action plan with measurable outcomes. In other words, we have to demonstrate that we’ve put our green spirit where our mouth is.”

Information on the Presidents Climate Commitment, www.pres identsclimatecommitment.org/.

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