Universities across U.S. reduce carbon emissions

The garden on top of Laurel Hall serves as one way of providing for a better environment. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Across 377 universities in the United States, carbon emissions per square foot have declined by 8 percent since 2007, according to a new report from Sightlines and the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute.

Several universities have switched from coal and oil to natural gas, helping to shrink carbon footprints, according to the report.

The report, based on the data collected from the 377 colleges and universities, is composed of 59 percent public and 41 percent private institutions, as well as a collective 1.5 billion square feet of campus facilities.

“Over the past two decades, colleges and universities have embraced numerous programs to minimize their environmental impacts, and campus sustainability leaders have made great strides,” Sightlines President Mark Schiff said in a press release. “Our State of Sustainability report aims to quantify and celebrate the sector’s progress, as well as outline specific and actionable opportunities for continuous improvement.

Sightlines is a company that helps member colleges and universities make strategic investments in the construction of their facilities. Independent of this report, the University of Connecticut is a member of Sightlines, according to Sightlines’ website.

UConn, a green-certified campus, has many plans in place to promote sustainability on campus. For example, The Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) was created at UConn in 2002 to place emphasis on improving the university’s environment.

OEP Director Richard Miller formed the Environmental Policy Advisory Council where UConn students, faculty, administrators and staff engage openly about environmental responsibility and sustainability, according to the OEP website.

President Susan Herbst also endorsed UConn’s 2020 Vision created by OEP initiating campus sustainability and climate leadership. UConn’s 2020 Vision provides an outline of sustainability goals in the Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Sustainability goals include reducing fossil fuel emissions and replacing them with green technology and other energy efficient campus operations, according to the CAP.

UConn also plans to increase the use of renewables and take responsibility for the future in order to ensure the conservation of natural resources and the preservation of a sustainable campus, according to CAP.

“We are pleased to see that the data shows continued progress by institutions of higher education in reducing the sector’s contribution to climate change,” UNH Provost Nancy Targett said.


Emma DeGrandi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.