- Yale President Richard Levin wants to make his school the greenest in the U.S.
- The university has committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020. To reach its goal, it plans to tap into renewable sources of energy, purchase carbon offsets, make its energy systems more efficient, and build new buildings greenly.
- The university hopes to aid China in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and educating its leaders on environmental issues.
Yale University has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17% since committing to a steep reduction in 2005, President Richard C. Levin reported
Additional projects planned by the University will produce a comparable further reduction within several years, said Levin, who has directed Yale to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below the University’s 1990 level by 2020. Reaching that target will require Yale to reduce emissions 43% below its 2005 level. Based on the planned growth of the University over the next 15 years, Yale’s emissions reduction goal is also 58% below the level of emissions projected for 2020.
“The good news is that we’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 43,000 metric tons in the first two years of our program,” Levin said. “That’s a 17% reduction from our 2005 levels. This rapid progress has given us confidence that we are going to achieve our reduction well before our 2020 deadline.”
Levin’s speech, “Leading by Example: Creating a Sustainable Campus,” is the first of a series of lectures on climate change sponsored by the University of Copenhagen as a prelude to the United Nations’ climate summit in Denmark in 2009.
Yale’s own greenhouse gas reduction target is comparable to the reduction needed globally to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees centigrade, a level that the scientific consensus forecasts would produce greatly intensified damaging impacts from warming. Yale expects to reach its carbon emission reduction goal at a cost of less than 1% of its annual operating budget, Levin said.
Yale’s strategy to shrink its carbon footprint calls for a mix of conservation measures, the use of renewable energy on campus, and direct participation in carbon offset projects. Yale has achieved its 17% reduction in emissions to date through projects and policies including:
- Installation of more efficient heating and cooling systems in 90 buildings
- New automated controls for heating, cooling and lighting
- Replacement of windows
- New and modified power plant equipment
- Achieving LEED Silver or better certification for all new buildings and major renovations
- Use of ground water for cooling
- A 10% yearly reduction in electricity consumption by students in Yale’s undergraduate residential colleges achieved through a variety of measures
Planned projects at the University that will produce additional reductions in Yale’s carbon emissions include the installation of a new cogeneration power plant, the adoption of sustainable building design and construction standards, the use of hybrid vehicles and other sustainable transportation measures, and use of solar and wind power on campus.
Yale’s own greenhouse gas reduction efforts are part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy on its large campus that involves protection of ecosystems, water conservation, recycling, and use of locally grown products in University dining facilities. Yale established an Office of Sustainability in 2005 to coordinate these efforts. Yale has been working actively with other universities on efforts to gather data and set targets regarding greenhouse gas emissions, as well as exchanging best practices related to sustainability. Among those groups are the International Alliance of Research Universities, of which Yale and Copenhagen are members, the Ivy Plus group and the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium, which Yale chairs