Northwestern unveils first-ever plan for sustainability – Education News

on Oct12

11 October 2017 | 2:00 pm

Northwestern University has unveiled its first Strategic Sustainability Plan, a five-part policy for its Chicago and Evanston campuses.

The plan’s goals include getting the entire Northwestern vehicle fleet running on renewable energy by 2030; reducing campus landfill waste by 50 percent by 2020; reducing energy consumption in campus facilities by 20 percent by 2020, and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Independent third parties will measure the school’s progress. The university’s waste management company will provide insight on how much is recycled, for example.

Results will be published annually on the NU and Department of Energy websites, and abbreviated results will be hand-delivered to the mayors’ offices in Chicago and Evanston, says John D’Angelo, Northwestern’s vice president of facilities management, who is leading the program.

Northwestern uses a total of 181 kilo British Thermal Units per square foot annually, slightly more than nearby Loyola University Chicago. In 2016 the Sierra Club also ranked Loyola the seventh-greenest college in America; Loyola was the only Chicago school to crack the top 90.

In November, Loyola will receive a Climate Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council for reducing its carbon emissions by 38 percent from 2008 to 2016. Loyola is the only four-year university to receive the award.

“I’m very excited about some of the conversations we’re having about energy technology and I think we’ll see continued progress,” says Aaron Durnbaugh, director of sustainability. “We want to go further.”

Jaime Van Mourik, vice president of education at the U.S. Green Building Council, complimented Northwestern.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s impressive what Northwestern’s going to be doing, they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them,” she says. “For an institution to go through this lengthy process and get to this point shows a level of maturity in becoming a truly sustainable community and campus.”

D’Angelo says the formal plan started about a year ago, and was developed as a way to consolidate the independent activities of students, faculty, staff and researchers. He brought the groups together because he wanted to figure out how Northwestern can deliver a better, more usable environment among its buildings and green spaces.

Northwestern also wanted to take stock of its total carbon footprint. Students today have an increased understanding about the effects of climate change and are going to hold Northwestern accountable for resources used, says Provost Jonathan Holloway.

In developing the plan, the university discovered a few ways to cut consumption. Northwestern has recently celebrated a number of sustainable firsts.

In early 2016, Northwestern converted all its outdoor lamps to LEDs, cutting energy usage for outdoor lighting by more than 50 percent. As of July, the university also reduced its energy consumption across its Evanston and Chicago campuses by 14 percent from 2010. Over the past 10 months, D’Angelo says, Northwestern replaced about 15 of his department’s vehicles with electric cars. The university anticipates that will save about $30,000 annually in gas costs.



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