Update on Sustainability Initiatives

Nov. 1, 2016

I am pleased to announce that for the first time since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Brandeis has reduced its carbon footprint. This is a meaningful milestone: We have begun to respond to the urgent call of climate change, facing our responsibility to the global community to reduce our emissions and joining the leaders of the world who are acting on the Paris Agreement.

During fiscal year 2016, the University used 10 percent less energy than it did in fiscal year 2015 and reduced its carbon footprint by approximately 8 percent. Though it will take more than one year to fully confirm our pace of progress, we are confident we have taken an important first step.

We achieved this reduction by implementing practices outlined in our new Energy Conservation and Management Policy, developed by the 2015-2016 President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability and endorsed by the Student Union.  

The President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability has also revised the University’s Climate Action Plan. The plan outlines numerous efforts we will undertake to continue reducing our carbon footprint, which also translates into significant financial savings. Our short-term goals are to reduce our emissions by 10 percent by fiscal year 2018 and 15 percent by fiscal year 2020, using fiscal year 2015 as the baseline. Further goals and initiatives will be developed and announced in plan updates.

I would like to thank the task force co-chairs — Matt Smetana ’17, Professor Sabine von Mering, and Vice President Jim Gray — for their leadership. I would also like to thank our Facilities Services staff, led by Bob Avalle. Their innovation and persistence drove our progress.

During my time as president at Middlebury College, I was extremely proud to see the campus come together to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 50 percent. I hope this first step forward at Brandeis will ultimately lead us to equally impressive results.

Reducing our carbon footprint depends on the participation of our entire community. Given the excellent results from our Turn It Off days this past summer, I know we can count on you to remain a critical part of our efforts. Every one of your decisions — whether turning off a light or removing your space heater — matters to the environment, and to Brandeis. Thank you for being part of it.