About the Year of Climate Action
Welcome to the Year of Climate Action!
This year is devoted to deepening our understanding of climate change as a social justice issue through our incredible lineup of curricular and co-curricular programming throughout the year.
In addition to educational opportunities, we are launching several institutional initiatives to reduce our climate impacts, from our decarbonization study to organic land management practices, an energy efficiency project database and more.
The Brandeis Decarbonization Action Plan
Together with a team of experts, Brandeis' Capital Programs group is developing a plan to transform energy use, reduce emissions on campus and set the university on a path to carbon neutrality. The team is conducting a rigorous assessment of the work needed to transform the campus' heating, cooling, and electricity usage to become fossil fuel free. The resulting Decarbonization Action Plan will give Brandeis the analysis and tools needed to commit to new greenhouse gas reduction targets for our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. Most importantly, the plan will include an adjustable 10-year capital investment and energy procurement strategy that leverages our existing 10-year deferred maintenance plan, augmented with lower-emitting and less energy-intensive solutions. The study will run from June 2022 to early 2023. There will be opportunities for community presentations & feedback.
New organic land management practices
This summer and fall, Brandeis is piloting several organic land management practices. During the trial, Brandeis' Grounds team is replacing the herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate, with an organic, non-toxic treatment instead. Brandeis is also replacing a pesticide used to treat grubs, insects that feed on the roots of grass, with a non-toxic, organic product on an as-needed basis. The team has already applied its first treatment of organic fertilizer instead of synthetic fertilizer on lower campus. If the fertilizer is successful on lower campus, it will be expanded to a larger portion of campus. The team has also purchased its first electric leaf blower and electric trimmer in an effort to eliminate some use of gas-powered equipment. The team already uses an electric chainsaw and electric hedge trimmers.
These efforts add to a number of improvements already made in the past year. For example, the team is using a new, more efficient mulch blower that has cut mulch usage in half. They have created Brandeis’ first tree replacement program that ensures any tree that is removed due to disease or construction is replaced or relocated elsewhere on campus, and earlier this year, the team created Brandeis’ first integrated pest management plan.
The effort is made possible by the Brandeis Sustainability Fund.
New resources for faculty
While all campus community members may apply to the Brandeis Sustainability Fund for sustainability projects in any year, we have developed a new streamlined application for faculty for funding to support course development or other projects during the Year of Climate Action.
We have also created a curated selection of teaching resources for faculty in any discipline to access, as well as held two faculty workshops that have hosted approximately 40 individual faculty members.
New energy efficiency project dashboard
Every year, Brandeis conducts multiple energy reduction projects. This year we are debuting a new energy efficiency project tracker and dashboard for public visibility. Now, all of our current and some recent energy efficiency projects are detailed for public viewing in GRITS, a project-management web platform, so you can see the energy, financial, and carbon savings data from our campus projects, as well as view a catalog of completed projects from other institutions that have opted into public sharing. New projects will be incorporated into the public catalog and dashboard going forward. To view our projects individually, click the link below, enter your email address if prompted, and select Brandeis in the institution list.
Continuing to measure the carbon footprint of our endowment
In addition to the new initiatives above, Brandeis is continuing to develop a measurement and analysis tool set to measure and disclose the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions associated with our entire endowment holdings as part of our sustainability goals. This tool set will quantify both our progress and success in reducing the direct and indirect greenhouse emissions associated with our endowment holdings.