Lincoln, Neb. —The Environmental Studies Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is partnering with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI) and Conservation Nebraska to assess energy use and complete greenhouse gas inventories for the cities of Grand Island and Norfolk. This project, called Project Energy Nebraska, will help these cities create more sustainable communities.
“This project provides UNL students the opportunity to do real work, with real people, on real problems,” said David Gosselin, Ph.D., director of UNL’s Environmental Studies Program. Some of this work includes data input, constructive decision-making, group collaboration and project budgeting and development. Most importantly, students will learn valuable skills to help them become the changemakers of tomorrow.
ICLEI, a national non-governmental organization headquartered in Denver, Colorado, develops tools, standards and partnerships to help communities reduce their carbon emissions. This unique partnership marks the first time Nebraska joins ICLEI’s U.S. network of nearly 300 local and regional governments and global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments. Project Energy Nebraska provides a valuable opportunity for college students to apply their sustainable development education in Grand Island and Norfolk.
“Young people have a strong sense that they need to protect their future on this planet,” said ICLEI USA’s Senior Program Officer, Tom Herrod, a 1998 UNL alumnus with a bachelor of science in environmental studies. “We feel strongly that communities that measure the energy they consume in their homes, buildings, transportation and waste sectors are more capable of implementing sustainable and resilient infrastructure for future generations.”
Program Director at Conservation Nebraska, UNL alumnus, and former Environmental Studies Program student Amanda Gangwish and the Conservation Nebraska team are serving as liaisons to connect the students with resources and contacts throughout the course of the project. Their support plays a vital role in giving students insight into community organizing and environmental education.
Project Energy Nebraska functions not only to develop real-world experience for students but to provide useful data analysis to the cities of Grand Island and Norfolk. The products that result from the project will give true insight into the efficiency and sustainability of these communities.
“This is a good first step in identifying ways that we conduct business and can give us a baseline as to what areas we may be able to reduce those emissions,” said Jeremy Rogers, Grand Island’s stormwater program manager. The project’s purpose is to help cities take a step forward in sustainability efforts and emissions awareness by utilizing the dedication, brain power and enthusiasm of UNL’s environmental studies students.
Prabhakar Shrestha, Ph.D., UNL’s director of sustainability, is also supporting students completing the greenhouse gas inventories. His experience in data analysis and climate science makes him a valuable contributor to the project. “Because of the process of data inquiry, proper research and navigating barriers, the outcome of this project will be unique to Nebraska,” Shrestha said.
For more information on Project Energy Nebraska: