November 21, 2014

Sustainability office wants campus-wide emissions cut

The Office of Sustainability, along with several campus partners including Facilities Services, is developing a plan to reduce University greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20 percent as compared to 2012 numbers by the year 2025. The document, called the Climate and Energy Plan, will outline how the University will reach this goal, which was announced in the Strategic Sustainability Plan in 2012.

The Climate and Energy Plan is a larger framework to organize and clarify the large number of GHG projects that will take place on campus over the next few years. It is separate from, but working in conjunction with, the Strategic Sustainability Plan, which identifies nine potential areas of improvement, ranging from multimodal transportation to high-performance buildings, and clarifies the metrics used to measure those improvements.

“[The plan is] a living document that will be regularly updated. It will identify specific projects that need to be implemented each year in order to reach our 2025 goal,” Mike Stopka, director of the Office of Sustainability, wrote in an e-mail. The plan incorporates a number of different initiatives that target grounds, facilities, shuttles, and student, faculty, and staff engagement strategies.

Stopka said a lot of thought went into the target the University chose. “The 20 percent GHG reduction target was arrived at through discussions with the University’s Sustainability Council, research across Facilities Services, [and] comparing targets to peer institutions,” Stopka wrote. He calls the 2025 deadline “aggressive, yet achievable.”

Currently, 94 percent of all University GHG emissions are the result of natural gas use, electricity use, and transportation, according to Stopka. As a result, most of the effort will be focused on buildings, implementing renewable energy solutions, and developing a multimodal transportation plan (MTP). The MTP will incentivize green transportation, according to the Sustainability Office’s website, by, for example, promoting bicycle usage.

Stopka said that the goal of reducing GHG emissions is about more than just numbers.

“If we hope to achieve our GHG reduction goal, we’ll need to make our buildings, landscape, and infrastructure smarter, more efficient, and more in tune with nature,” he said.