Introduction

Groundbreaking research on the science of climate change demonstrates that there is a clear and direct link between human activity and the warming planet, making this issue one of the gravest of the 21st century. Given the all-encompassing nature of the issue, it is sometimes challenging to imagine that institutional and individual decisions can help mitigate the issue. But collectively, institutions and individuals can—and they must. While this Plan focuses heavily on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), Columbia recognizes that there exists a larger range of sustainability considerations from food and nutrition standards, to water and resource conservation, and so forth. Columbia will remain open to expanding its inclusion of these issues over time.

Each member of the University community plays an important role in mitigating environmental degradation and climate change. The directive of this Plan is to model Columbia’s sustainable values in the campus operation, knowing that thoughtful resource management along with important education and engagement from Columbia’s community will have a reach far beyond our campus. This Plan outlines key goals and strategies that will be implemented across University operations, and the collaboration and collective action from every department, school, and individual on campus will help the University not only achieve these goals but also help further shift the culture toward a more sustainable Columbia.