Yale Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions Even as Campus Grows

Yale’s Office of Sustainability has reported a 7% reduction in the University’s greenhouse gas emissions since 2005 despite a 3.2% increase in the size of the campus during that period.

President Richard C. Levin committed Yale three years ago to a 43% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020, a reduction that would bring University emissions down to 10% below the level of 1990.

Yale is progressing toward its goal by improving energy efficiency in existing buildings, establishing sustainable standards for new construction and large renovations, increasing the efficiency of on-campus energy production and distribution, and launching renewable energy projects. It is anticipated that the University can achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goal at a cost of less than one percent of its annual operating budget.

“Universities have an important role in the effort to curtail global warming,” Levin says. “Much of the work on climate science that has led to the detection and understanding of climate change was done within our walls, and we have been at the forefront of modeling the economic, social and environmental impact of rising global temperatures and sea levels. More recently, universities have begun to take the lead, along with enlightened corporations and municipal and provincial governments, in setting standards for carbon emissions that are substantially more restrictive than those adopted by national governments.”

Emissions included in the University’s 2005 greenhouse gas reduction goal include those produced by its two power plants on campus and electricity purchased for its central and medical campuses. In addition to these sources, Yale has now incorporated the emissions from the recently acquired West Campus, the former Bayer Healthcare Complex. Yale is committed to the same emissions reduction for the 136-acre West Campus as for the rest of the University.

Yale’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy is the centerpiece of the University’s efforts to operate its campus in a sustainable manner. These efforts are coordinated by the Office of Sustainability directed by Julie Newman.

“We have a comprehensive sustainability framework that includes protection of natural ecosystems, conservation of our water resources, recycling of materials and the use of natural, locally grown food in our dining halls,” Levin says. “We aspire to leadership in all of these dimensions of sustainability, and we hope to inculcate in our students a lasting consciousness of what it means to live on a planet with finite resources in full awareness of how human action today affects the future of both humanity and the natural environment.”

Details of Yale’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy can be found online at www.yale.edu/sustainability/climate.

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