University announces Climate Action Plan

Plan outlines Brandeis’ strategy to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality

WALTHAM, Mass.—Brandeis President Jehuda 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).

Brandeis University Climate Action Plan

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Climate Action Plan

The plan documents Brandeis’ commitment to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions and outlines initiatives designed to achieve climate neutrality. It also includes recommendations for expanding academic offerings to teach students the skills they need to help society do the same.

“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.

The university has already achieved notable successes in implementing energy efficiency actions to reduce environmental impact and costs.

Brandeis has reduced energy demand by more than 10 percent since 2005 through improvements to campus steam systems, installation of energy-efficient lighting, and use of technology to schedule energy use in unoccupied classrooms.

The Climate Action Plan includes additional energy efficiency projects 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.

“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,” said Ivana Kovacikova ‘11, student leader of the Eco-Rep program.

The Climate Action Plan was authored by the Brandeis Environmental Sustainability Team (BEST), a diverse group of Brandeis faculty, staff and students chaired by Sustainability Coordinator Janna Cohen-Rosenthal ’03.

“The Climate Action Plan highlights strategies and a number of concrete steps to reach our goals, but we hope to generate even more ideas from the university community through forums and events,” said Cohen-Rosenthal.

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

As a signatory of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, Brandeis receives support and resources to help achieve its climate objectives, and has access to a network of peer institutions that share best practices. More than 600 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.”

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