Yale to Host Campus Sustainability Professionals from Around the World
Representatives from more than 50 universities and colleges and nine nations will gather at Yale University November 2-4 to discuss and exchange ways to make their institutions more environmentally sustainable.
The gathering of professionals from the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium and other organizations will focus on “Strategies for Institutionalizing Sustainability in Higher Education.”
Yale President Richard C. Levin, who has launched a series of initiatives to reduce Yale’s environmental impact while it pursues a leading role in environmental research and education, will speak at the conference.
Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and author of “Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment,” will deliver a keynote address on “Adaptation to Climate Change in Institutions of Higher Learning.”
Daniel C. Esty, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale and the Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Center for Business & Environment at Yale, will also speak at the conference, as will Julie Newman, the founder of the Consortium and director of Yale’s Office of Sustainability.
“This conference brings together leaders in campus sustainability from around the country and the world to address some of the challenges that are common to all of our institutions,” Newman said. “We hope that by sharing what we’ve learned here at Yale we can help raise the level of commitment and of performance at other institutions of higher learning.”
Issues to be explored during the conference include:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions on campus
- Engaging students in environmentally sustainable behavior
- Campus transportation strategies
- Facility design and construction
- Campus food practices
- Recycling, including construction and demolition materials
- Environmental justice
A cornerstone of Yale’s own sustainability efforts is a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 10% below its 1990 levels by the year 2020.
“By adopting this goal Yale is one of the first universities in the country to commit to a fifteen-year strategic energy plan. We intend to reach our goal through a combination of a strong energy conservation program, investing in alternative energy sources, purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates, and implementing on-site renewable and clean energy demonstration projects,” Levin said. “Every one of us on campus has a role to play in helping achieve this goal, by conserving energy and by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that flow from its use.”
Yale’s greenhouse gas reduction program includes a 15% reduction in energy use in the University’s undergraduate residential colleges. The goal was expected to be reached in three years, but Yale undergraduates reduced their energy consumption by 10% in the first year alone. For each 5% reduction in energy use achieved by the students, Yale planned to provide one-third of their energy needs through renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass or hydroelectric. Because of the 10% reduction in energy use by students, the University is already providing two-thirds of their energy needs through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.
Other Yale sustainability efforts include:
- A campus shuttle bus system that operates on an emission-reducing blend of ultra-low sulfur diesel and a 20% biodiesel. Coupled with Yale’s Homebuyer Program, which gives Yale employees an incentive to live near campus, the shuttle system has earned Yale a “best workplace for commuters” designation by the federal government;
- Efficient energy production on campus featuring a cogeneration power plant that produces both steam and electricity and an award-winning “fuel cell” power plant;
- Plans for a new 50,000-square-foot home for the School of Forestry & Environmental Students that will be “climate neutral,” and
- The Yale Sustainable Food Project, which oversees a dining program on campus, maintains a model farm and supports education related to food and agriculture.
A complete conference schedule can be found on the website of the Yale Office of Sustainability.