Yale’s environmental footprint shrinking, even as campus grows

Yale has met or is well on its way to meeting more than three-quarters of the goals set out in its Sustainability Strategic Plan for 2010–2013.

Yale has met or is well on its way to meeting more than three-quarters of the goals set out in its Sustainability Strategic Plan for 2010–2013 — reducing the University’s environmental footprint and streamlining systems and processes to save resources, time, and money, even as the campus continues to grow.

Of the original 43 goals established by Sustainability Task Force, 15 have been achieved and 19 are on target, according to the “The Progress Continues: 2012 Sustainability Report” issued by the Office of Sustainability. Four other goals are under the category “We can do better,” and five are being reevaluated as the new Sustainability Task Force drafts Yale’s strategic plan for the future.

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“The progress demonstrated in this report represents the depth of commitment and the multiple levels of sustainability leadership embedded throughout the campus,” says Julie Newman, director of Yale’s Office of Sustainability. “We are very proud of the sustainability progress that has been made over the past three years, grateful for President Levin’s continued leadership, and eager to strive for greater engagement and continued progress with the strategic plan 2.0”

One long-term objective that is on track, according to “The Progress Continues,” is the effort to reduce Yale’s greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a 43% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 — a goal set forth by President Richard C. Levin seven years ago. As of fiscal year 2012, Yale has reduced its emissions 16% from 2005 levels despite a 12% increase in campus size and 9% increase in population — mostly through energy conservation and efficiency efforts on campus, utilizing cleaner fuel, and investing in renewable energy.

Yale also remains on target in its efforts to reduce solid waste, thanks to initiatives promoting reuse, composting, and recycling. In fact, Yale Dining now composts 95% of all food waste in residential dining halls and kitchens.

The Office of Sustainability has made progress in its efforts to raise awareness and introduce best practices in Yale’s offices and laboratories, and to “green” its athletic and other events. The Yale Green Workplace Certification Program, now in its third year, has certified 38 workplaces to date. The Green Events Certification Program, also in its third year, has nearly doubled the number of green-certified events annually. All told, 59 events have been green-certified since the program began, and in 2012, all of the Yale College Reunions were green-certified at the platinum level, the highest rating achievable.

One area in which Yale needs to “do better,” according to “The Progress Continues,” is in reducing the amount of paper used on campus. There were 203,236 reams of paper purchased in 2012, versus the target goal of 156,301. To help achieve the desired 25% reduction, the Office of Sustainability has established a committee to develop tools and tactics for curbing the University’s reliance on paper.

Some of the major goals that Yale has achieved since issuing its 2010–2013 strategic plan are:

  • All new buildings or renovations projects that have been completed on campus have achieved at least a LEED Gold rating.
  • Yale’s recycling rate has been increased by the targeted goal of 25%. In fact, the recycling rate is now 27%.
  • The number of Yale Dining related trucks bringing supplies to campus has been reduced from 1,650 per week to less than 300, thanks to efforts to promote consolidation and bulk purchasing.
  • Yale Dining has eliminated the use of harmful chemicals containing phosphates and/or chlorine, and there are now annual training programs on the use of chemicals, waste disposal, and related equipment for all Yale Dining Staff.
  • A Microloan fund has been established, enabling departments to request small funds for sustainability projects that will have a positive return within three years.
  • Orientation programs for incoming freshmen and new Yale employees now include information about the University’s sustainability policies and goals.
  • Online training modules have been developed that offer Yale community members tips on how to improve their specific building’s sustainability level through proper energy consumption, water consumption, and waste disposal.
  • As part of its outreach education programs, the Office of Sustainability has joined with the Yale Peabody Museum to launch a Citizen Science Project.

For more information, visit the Office of Sustainability website.

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