IARU Shares Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets and Sustainability Strategies
Yale University has joined the other nine members of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) in addressing global warming by adopting greenhouse gas reduction targets for their campuses.
“Addressing the impacts of climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the global community,” the presidents of the IARU members said in a joint statement. “While individual commitment to modifying the human impact on the environment is needed, this response must be led by governments, industry and academia.”
The reduction targets adopted by IARU member universities are posted on the IARU website at:
“These initial targets primarily focus on reducing the carbon impact of energy use,” the presidents stated. “ However, over time, the IARU is committed to expanding its programs to reduce the impact in other areas of operation and as a result of travel.”
Yale’s own target calls for a 43% reduction of its greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020. Yale has been making progress toward its goal through conservation, green construction and renewable energy projects. Overall, Yale’s comprehensive sustainability framework includes protection of natural ecosystems, conservation of water resources, recycling of materials, and the use of natural, locally grown food in its dining halls.
IARU also released a sustainability toolkit reflecting the universities’ experience that other institutions of higher learning may use as a guide to assist in developing a comprehensive sustainability that suits a particular campus.
The six-point toolkit includes the following elements:
1. Mapping current situation and developing a governance structure
The underlying goal of a campus sustainability program should be to mainstream environmental management into the operational and academic activities of the University.
2. Measuring environmental impacts
Identify all key activities that impact on the University environmental footprint and establish measures to determine the level of that impact.
3. Integrating campus activities
There are significant benefits in integrating campus activities – effectively taking a holistic approach to campus sustainability.
4. Determining goals and a strategy for the process
Develop an underlying policy framework that articulates the University’s overall commitment to environmental improvement and leadership.
5. Establishing strategies to create a sustainable campus
Campus sustainability is a product of engineered solutions and behavior change.
6. Education and Awareness
An informed and ecologically literate campus community will drive institutional change.
Accompanying the online toolkit are resources, strategies and case studies on sustainability efforts development by IARU members.
Yale President Richard C. Levin and Sustainability Director Julie Newman are participating in a workshop on the tool kit and creating green universities at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change organized by IARU at the University of Copenhagen March 10-12.
The Congress is a prelude to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held at Copenhagen later this year. The findings of the congress will be supplementary to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The congress will provide a summary of existing scientific knowledge two years after the last IPCC report. The findings will be provided to policy makers at the upcoming United Nations Conference.