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Climate Action Plan

by Mog,Justin M last modified Dec 18, 2014 06:14 PM

UofL is committed to reducing our net greenhouse gas emissions and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Interview: UofL energy report (WHAS-11 ABC TV, Mar. 18, 2014)
UofL’s emissions down (UofL Today, Jan. 27, 2014)
University of Louisville is on its way to carbon neutrality (Louisville Alternative Energy Examiner, January 31, 2012)

As a 2008 signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the University of Louisville is committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the ultimate long-term goal of carbon neutrality.

On September 15, 2010, UofL released its Climate Action Plan, a comprehensive roadmap for achieving this goal over the next four decades. A summary of the Plan and a link to the full document can be found here. The Sustainability Council coordinates UofL's Climate Action Planning as well as the reporting of our greenhouse gas emissions.

UofL employees & students are encouraged to offset emissions from university travel/business through a service like The Appalachian Carbon Partnership which uses the funds to protect Kentucky forests

On January 15, 2014, UofL released a very encouraging Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for 2006-2013. From 2006 to 2013, we estimate that emissions have dropped over 22% from 246,929 to 191,823 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, an amount equal to taking 11,600 cars off the road! (Note: These figures have been revised downward from figures released earlier after an initial reporting error was discovered.)

While this reduction is worthy of note and should be celebrated, it still does not represent a steep enough decline to achieve our goal of climate neutrality by 2050. We must continue to innovate and strive for even greater reductions in years to come.

The 2013 report represents a significant step forward in the comprehensiveness and accuracy of data gathering for carbon accounting as the University continues to strive to improve data collection methods and to more accurately track emissions. It was proceeded by our Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for 2006-2010 released in September 2011, and our first benchmark Greenhouse Gas Emissions Baseline Inventory (2006-2008), released in September 2009.

UofL's Greenhouse Gas Emissions have dropped over 22% 2006-13

UofL's target goals for university-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from our 2008 benchmark estimate of 192,788 MT eCO2 are:

Goals

Timeframe

 Reduction in net GHG emissions

Target maximum net GHG emissions

(MT CO2e)

Short Term

2010–2020

20%

154,230

Mid Term

2021–2030

40%

115,673

Long Term

2031–2050

100%

0

Our plan for making progress toward climate neutrality is dynamic and multifaceted. We recognize that sustainability demands progress on multiple fronts and that lasting change cannot be achieved without coordinated efforts campus-wide. As such, we propose taking a variety of steps to lead UofL down a path toward climate neutrality with a focus on the following initiatives: green purchasing; energy conservation and efficiency; renewable energy; carbon sequestration; master planning; green building design; composting and horticultural practices; behavior change; recycling; transportation; food; and carbon offsets.

A sample of projects from UofL's Climate Action Plan

Project

Estimated emissions reduction

(MT eCO2 per year)

Progress towards goal

(% reduction in GHG emissions from 2008 baseline)

20% renewable energy by 2020

22,284

11.5%

Implement phase 2 of energy savings performance contract on HSC & Shelby campuses

17,419

9%

Convert from coal to natural gas fuel at Belknap Steam & Chilled Water Plant

4,222

2.2%

Create dedicated bike lanes to connect campus to neighborhoods

3,283

1.7%

Increase fuel efficiency of the university fleet by 15%

136.3

0.7%

UofL's Climate Action Plan is designed to be a living document that we will continue to revisit and refine as we go through a four decade process of adaptive management on the road to climate neutrality. Engaging students, faculty, researchers, staff and the broader community in this process will be vital to its success and to our broader educational and research mission. This plan is a key element in our sustainability initiatives, and it involves many steps that will help us achieve our strategic goals as well as our climate commitment. It is also the right thing to do in a world of dwindling fossil fuel resources and worsening climate crisis.

How are we doing? See our January 2013 Climate Action Plan Progress Report.

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