For university leaders, committing to a carbon-neutral campus is easier said than done. While carbon neutrality is an ambitious goal, JLL’s new report reveals that it is achievable for U.S. universities. And environmental sustainability isn’t just on the minds of leaders in higher education; sustainable campuses have emerged as a major factor in student and faculty recruitment.
That being said, achieving carbon neutrality is a journey that requires constant diligence. The good news is that there’s a vast array of solutions and technologies to help. Wherever an institution is on this journey, there are universal practices that can be applied to further its environmental sustainability goals. Here are just a few of the measures university leaders can apply to ensure their commitment to building a sustainable campus:
- Avoid “point-chasing” tactics and focus on outcomes. While LEED, Green Globes or other certifications have their merit, pursuing certification points can overshadow the larger goals of energy conservation, environmental sustainability and building functionality.
- Adopt smart building technologies. Funding energy conservation investments is a challenge at most institutions. The solution lies in capital planning, because better-maintained buildings tend to have smaller carbon footprints.
- Take advantage of no- or low-cost measures to further success. The road to carbon neutrality can include many no-cost or low-cost initiatives for achieving carbon-footprint reductions. Small, everyday actions, from switching off unused lights and electric appliances to turning down thermostats and establishing a slightly lower set point for hot water heaters, can have a significant impact.
Small steps can make a substantial impact in a college or university’s overall journey to carbon neutrality. One Boston university discovered it could save approximately $180,000 per year for each degree of overcooling that was corrected campus-wide, and that number rose to $290,000 per degree when overheating was corrected. These results are from modest, easy-to-implement steps, proving that campus sustainability is just as achievable as it is ambitious.
To see more of the best practices for living up to your presidential commitment to sustainability, download our Carbon-Neutral Campus report.