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CALS teams with athletic dept. to create “carbon neutral” football season

As part of a campuswide commitment to reducing our environmental footprint, the Badgers’ home football season has been designated as the first ever Big Ten “carbon-neutral” season.

Last year, the Badgers’ Homecoming game was “carbon-neutral.” Now, thanks to a partnership with Madison Gas and Electric, the entire home football season will be “carbon-neutral.”

This effort, the first of its kind in the Big Ten, will offer a chance to raise awareness of environmental issues, such as the damaging effects of carbon dioxide and the benefits of conservation and recycling.

The Athletic Department, in partnership with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), and the student led organization REThink Wisconsin have been working on a variety of efforts aimed at increased recycling at Camp Randall and the elimination of the printed Badgers’ media guide.  The Department formed a Sustainability Advisory Committee last year to help think of new ways to reduce the environmental impact of operations throughout the department.

“We’re pleased to support the Big Ten’s first ‘carbon-neutral’ football season and I’m grateful to Madison Gas and Electric, as well as the staff at CALS, for partnering with us on this initiative,” says Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.

The project has two aims: to offset carbon dioxide emissions generated directly by activities surrounding the hosting of all seven home games at Camp Randall and increase fan awareness on the many ways they can contribute to offset the carbon footprint by recycling and other actions.  The university’s commitment also involves the purchase of carbon credits to offset estimated carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps sunlight in the planet’s atmosphere and contributes to global warming. It is produced whenever we burn fossil fuels, such as coal or gasoline, for electricity, transportation or to produce products. Most scientists think the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of the prime reasons our climate is changing.

“Madison Gas and Electric and the University of Wisconsin share common goals of improving the environment,” said Lynn Hobbie, senior vice president of Madison Gas and Electric. “Partnering with the Athletic Department on a carbon-neutral football season enhances our commitment and leadership role of promoting renewable energy initiatives.”

An analysis done by researchers at the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences estimates that the staging of all home games this season generates the emission of more than 8,100 tons of carbon dioxide. The vast majority of emissions come from fans traveling to and from the game, but the analysis also took into account electrical use, production of concessions and hotel stays by fans.

“The partnership among the Athletic Department, Madison Gas and Electric and the College to have a carbon-neutral home season continues to build upon the commitment made last year by our student-athletes to help build a better Wisconsin through their efforts on and off the field,” says CALS Dean Molly Jahn.

Carbon credits will be purchased on the Chicago Climate Exchange to offset those emissions. When credits are purchased on the exchange, the money is invested in other projects that offset emissions by a corresponding amount.

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