News

Brandeis University Climate Action Plan Released

Sep. 17, 2009

President Jeuhda Reinharz has finalized the Brandeis University Climate Action Plan and submitted it to the campus community and the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).The plan documents Brandeis’ commitment to reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions and outlines initiatives designed to achieve an overall goal of climate neutrality as well as a set of steps that will teach students the skills they will need to help society do the same. cap

“Reversing global warming is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century,” said President Reinharz.  “By employing a wide range of expertise, resources, and reputation, Brandeis can become a model of environmental stewardship, thereby furthering the University’s commitment to social responsibility.”

The Climate Action Plan sets a long term goal of making the campus climate neutral by 2050 and sets shorter-term milestones, such as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to 15 percent below 2008 levels. This will require implementation of numerous energy efficiency, renewable energy, green building, and transportation management projects. Brandeis already has posted some notable successes in implementing energy efficiency actions to reduce environmental impact and costs.Through improvements to campus steam systems, installation of energy-efficient lighting, and use of technology to schedule energy use in unoccupied classrooms, the campus has reduced energy demand by more than 10 percent since 2005.The new plan includes further energy efficiencies and a new focus on community participation.  Each student residential quad will have an Eco-Rep, an environmental peer educator. Beginning in October, students will be able to receive a “Green Room Certification” from their Eco-Rep by taking energy-saving steps such as turning off lights, using bicycles, and recycling. A similar program will be created in spring 2010 to encourage faculty and staff to have green offices.

Ivana Kovacikova ‘11, student leader of the Eco-Rep program said, “The tangible actions of the University in its planning to invest in efficiency and renewable energy will help encourage students and community members to make changes in their daily lives”.The plan was authored by a diverse group of Brandeis faculty, staff, and students, who are members of the Brandeis Environmental Sustainability Team or “BEST”, chaired by the Sustainability Coordinator Janna Cohen-Rosenthal ’03.“The Climate Action Plan highlights strategies and some concrete steps, but we hope to generate even more ideas from the university community through forums and events to help reach our goals,” Cohen-Rosenthal said.

A forum for announcing major initiatives for the year ahead and providing details of the new plan is in the works, tentatively scheduled for September 30 in the new Science Center.

As a signatory of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, Brandeis receives support and resources designed to help the school achieve the outlined climate objectives and has access to a supportive network of peer institutions that share insights into best practices.  Six hundred fifty college and university presidents have joined the ACUPCC, a comprehensive climate change initiative through which schools are committing to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on their campuses. "I congratulate Brandeis University on its commitment to climate neutrality and for contributing to this first sector-wide effort at creating climate action plans," said Toni Nelson, Program Director of the presidents’ group.  "The collective impact of schools throughout the nation fighting climate change is tremendous.”