Brandeis reaches campus sustainability milestone as initiatives continue

Photo/Julian Cardillo '14

Brandeis has taken significant steps toward responding to the global challenge of climate change as the university continues to work toward meeting future goals for campus sustainability.

For the first time since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Brandeis has reduced its carbon footprint.

During fiscal year 2016, Brandeis used 10 percent less energy than it did in fiscal year 2015. The university also reduced its carbon footprint by approximately eight percent.

“Reducing our carbon footprint is the most important step forward in Brandeis’ journey to becoming more sustainable,” said campus sustainability manager Mary Fischer. “While we must continue the progress we’ve made in our most recent fiscal year, we’re asking our entire community to remain active in conserving energy and resources.”

In reducing its energy usage and carbon footprint, Brandeis consumed less heating oil, gas and electricity in 2016 than it did in 2015. However, a number of other factors, both large and small, also played a leading role in helping the university reach this milestone.

The campus has engaged in a number of activities aimed at reducing energy usage and food waste, and continues to work with students, faculty and staff to establish best practices for conservation while on campus. Brandeis’ summer “Turn it Off” program in particular was highly successful, as it lowered peak electrical demand by 20 percent from the fiscal year 2014.

Further efforts by the Brandeis community to save energy included discontinuing the use of space heaters, turning off lights in occupied rooms and shutting down computers and monitors rather than keep them on idle.

Fischer reiterated the need for Brandeis to continue to make strides in conservation. And Brandeis’ Energy Conservation and Management Policy, which was developed by the 2015-2016 President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability, outlines how the university will direct its efforts to achieve its long term vision for reducing the overall carbon footprint.

The policy takes into account regulating temperature set points during the summer and winter months, standardizing practices for energy use inside buildings during weekends and school breaks, investing in equipment that is EnergyStar rated and continuing to prioritize community education on issues of sustainability and the environment.

Fischer also intends to continue to engage with the Brandeis community on efforts to curb its carbon footprint. She plans to hold more competitions between student groups, residence halls, academic buildings and staff aimed at reducing energy usage, and plans to share the results of these activities transparently. Brandeis has also launched Commute Green, a new carpooling option for students and staff to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and save more on fuel costs.

The university has indicated that its short-term goals are to reduce emissions by 10 percent by fiscal year 2018 and 15 percent by fiscal year 2020, using emissions from fiscal year 2015 as a baseline.

To reach these goals, Brandeis is calling on the community for continued support and action.

“I would like to thank Mary Fischer, Executive Director of Facilities Services Bob Avalle and the entire facilities team for their productive efforts on behalf of Brandeis,” said Vice President of Campus Operations James Gray. “I would also like to thank President Ron Liebowitz and Provost Lisa Lynch for their leadership and support of these efforts.

“Meeting our sustainability and conservation goals is critical to the future and well-being of our university and the world beyond our campus,” Gray added. “We need help from the entire Brandeis campus community if we hope to continue along the path of reducing our energy usage and carbon emissions.”

Categories: General, Student Life

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