Climate Action Plan
In its new draft climate action plan, the President's Task Force on Campus Sustainability called on Brandeis to heed the call of scientists and social justice advocates alike, fulfill its social justice mission more holistically than ever before, and help create a better, safer, more just life for generations to come. This shift requires bold, coordinated action and leadership. The covid-19 crisis has proved that this isn't easy—but that it can be done.
Why It Matters
Climate change presents an existential threat to all human life, most immediately to communities at risk here in the U.S. and around the globe. The consequences of climate change disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. Climate change will greatly harm the ecosystems of the planet, which will lead to species extinctions, possible ecosystem collapse, and definite impacts on humans as ecosystems degrade. Those impacted first and worst by this degradation have been and will continue to be low-income communities and people of color.
- According to the most recent IPCC report, the next few years are probably the most important in our history (subscription req.) in terms of carbon reduction.
- Living up to our carbon reduction commitments has never been more important. The worst impacts of climate change are not inevitable, but the time for action is now.
Our previous plan
Brandeis' 2016 Climate Action Plan committed to a 15% reduction by the end of the 2020 academic year, with 2015 as a baseline. We achieved a 14.5% reduction. However, this was only due to the steep decline in energy use as a result of the covid-19-related reduction in campus population at the end of the 2020 academic year. Were it not for covid-19, Brandeis would have achieved roughly a 12% carbon reduction.
The following energy efficiency improvements contributed to our reduction:
- Reduced energy consumption by making HVAC and building envelope (boundary between the conditioned interior of a building and environment beyond it) improvements.
- Created and enforced an energy policy that limits overcooling in summer and overheating in winter.
- Took measures to reduce natural gas usage at our central heating plant by lowering steam-line pressure during cooling season and piloting biofuel in winter 2018.
- Converted several buildings to all-LED lighting.
- The 2019-2020 President's Task Force on Campus Sustainability drafted a new plan, which is under review by the Brandeis administration. The new plan is the third and most ambitious plan since Brandeis became a signatory to the 2008 Carbon Commitment. The plan includes priorities for climate resilience, so that we can better prepare for the challenges that extreme climate conditions will present in the very near future. The plan also lays out how we will increase climate change education, and implement other best practices in sustainability going forward.
- In fall 2020, Brandeis established the formal Sustainability Committee, which was recommended by the Task Force. The committee will begin work on several recommendations of Vision 2030.
- Multibuilding LED lighting upgrades continue.
- Campus building assessments are underway to identify additional efficiency opportunities.
Honoring Our CommitmentsOver the years, Brandeis has:
- Signed the Carbon Commitment, 2007.
- Updated our original 2008 Climate Action Plan (pdf) with the 2016 Brandeis Climate Action Plan (pdf), and drafted our new plan in 2020.
- Achieved our first carbon-footprint reduction, 2016.
- Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz signed the We Are Still In declaration, reaffirming the university's commitment to the Paris Agreement after President Trump withdrew U.S support of the accord (2017).