UW-W professor going green on campus, at home

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He was a professor at Flinders University in South Australia.  He marched 42 miles to Madison to protest Walker’s bill.  He won the Environmental Achievement Award in 2010 for the Individual Category.

Underneath all of his accomplishments, Eric Compas is just an average professor who wants to save the environment, one green thumb at a time.

Compas

Compas, an assistant professor of geology and geography, has participated in environment-friendly programs that include establishing a Geographic Information System, researching efforts to reduce energy and electricity systems, and furthering sustainability efforts on campus.

“A lot of the things the campus was doing, most students weren’t aware of or had any part of, so it didn’t affect their lives,” Compas said.  “With these projects, I hope to achieve … greater awareness of what’s happening on campus.”

Compas also worked in Yellowstone National Park and taught environmental policy and geographic information systems courses at Flinders University in Australia. He finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Compas is currently working on the American College and University’s Presidents’ Climate Commitment along with the chancellor and other organizations and faculty members.

This fund provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to implement comprehensive plans in pursuit of climate neutrality.  Compas expects UW-Whitewater to reduce its net carbon dioxide emissions to zero.

Compas is also working with UW-Whitewater’s Sustainability Coordinator Wesley Enterline on the Student Sustainability Fund Program, a program that seeks proposals to provide financial assistance to students with sustainability projects ranging from small group class projects to renewable energy demonstration projects.

The groups receive $10,000 every year to fund projects, such as providing recycling on campus, planting trees, providing a commuter bus system, or establishing a community garden.

“The big picture is that campuses and colleges ought to be places where we try out new ways and new ways of living, not just that you go to class, but that you learn more about how could you eat differently, how you could use electricity differently, how you could use transportation differently,” Compas said.  “I think it’s kind of our obligation to our university to try some of these things and integrate them into student life and to the classroom.”

Compas is also a father to two children. He and his family are very eco-friendly.

“My son and I put a solar panel outside his room, and we have a charge controller and small batteries and we’ve tried to get as much of his room running on solar power,” Compas said.

The solar panel might take up to 15 years before it can pay for itself.

“We also have a meter on our house so I can see how much electricity we’re using at any point in time, and I’m always bugging the kids to turn stuff off… they love that,” Compas added with a laugh.

As an Earth Week enthusiast, Compas was a guest chef at Esker last night.

Compas also encourages others to get more involved in helping the campus in its sustainability efforts.

“If anyone on campus has any project ideas that they want some faculty member to get started or help move on, I’m game,” he said. “I love that kind of stuff.”