Update on Brandeis' Sustainability Commitments

May 21, 2021

Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,

I am writing with updates to our ongoing efforts to advance the university’s sustainability commitments, which include reducing our institution’s carbon footprint. Last August, the President’s Task Force submitted several recommendations (pdf) for how Brandeis could move toward these ambitious campus sustainability goals. While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the time frame for formally reviewing, approving, and implementing these recommendations, the Office of Sustainability has already begun to move forward with several of the Task Force’s recommendations. In particular, in December, I announced the formation of a new university-wide Sustainability Committee, which is charged with recommending and implementing future sustainability initiatives, as well as with holding Brandeis accountable for our long-term sustainability commitments.

This new committee has already undertaken several Task Force recommendations, including:

Today, I am pleased to announce several additional goals and initiatives proposed in the new climate action plan, which Brandeis will pursue in the coming months and years.

1. Reducing our climate impact

2. Improving climate change and sustainability education

3. Implementing best practices in transportation for sustainability and equity

4. Implementing sustainable procurement practices

5. Improving water conservation and management

Throughout its extensive engagement with the Brandeis community, the Task Force often received questions about divestment from the fossil fuel industry. As you may recall, in November 2018, the Brandeis Board of Trustees adopted a set of policies related to fossil fuels, and committed to review them in three years to evaluate their impact and consider future action. The Board is committed to reviewing these policies, and to determining the best course of action for Brandeis based on our data from the past three years, by November 2021.

The Task Force’s full set of recommendations are written together in Brandeis’ new draft climate action plan (pdf). I encourage you to read the plan and submit your comments to the sustainability committee. I also encourage you to visit our new interactive dashboards that track Brandeis’ waste, dining, and our carbon footprint.

These initiatives will not only ensure that Brandeis reaches its sustainability goals, but will also advance many core tenets of the Framework for the Future — including the importance of bringing interdisciplinary research and teaching to bear on the world’s most pressing questions, and investing in our campus infrastructure. Advancing some of these initiatives will result in cost-savings to the University. Others will require finding new financing sources or re-allocating existing resources. To ensure that these sustainability goals will shape and inform the university’s strategic thinking in the coming years, we will include this updated Climate Action Plan on the Framework for the Future website, and as an addendum to the Framework report.

I want to thank the many students, faculty, and staff who engaged in the work of the Task Force over the past several months and crafted these ambitious goals for Brandeis. I would also like to thank Mary Fischer and the rest of the Sustainability Committee for their commitment to making these goals a reality on our campus. These new initiatives are rooted in science and best practices, and will play an essential role in our efforts to reduce Brandeis’ carbon footprint, advance its sustainability goals, and support broader climate justice efforts in the coming years.


Ron Liebowitz