October is Campus Sustainability Month, and I am proud to share with you the work being done across the University to contribute to a more sustainable future.
Columbia’s ten-year sustainability plan, Plan 2030, is more than half-way into its second year. Aligned with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Science-Based Target Initiative, Plan 2030 sets the University on an aggressive trajectory to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Columbia was recently featured in a Smart Buildings Technology article highlighting the University's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint under Plan 2030 with a focus on building energy systems, technological advancements, and sustainable construction.
During Climate Week NYC in September, for which Columbia’s Climate School was named University Partner, we hosted a lineup of virtual events centered on university action to combat climate change. These included a panel of transportation professionals from four universities — Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, and of course Columbia — who discussed best-practice planning principles to facilitate efficient transportation while maintaining an attractive campus ecosystem.
Aligning with the commitment to utilize the campus as a living lab, the Office of Sustainability posed a capstone project to students in the School of Professional Studies’ Sustainability Management (SUMA) program to deduce a strategy for tracking and reducing Scope 3 emissions from freight travel. The Office of Sustainability is also hiring a Zero Waste Fellow to boost student participation in proper waste segregation and create a system to track compliance.
Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on ways to support the University’s Sustainable Events commitments, curate a focused effort around water conservation, and finalize a Scope 3 emissions screening level inventory that will reveal the University’s top opportunity areas for emissions reduction in this category. To support the ongoing expansion of data availability and increased need for sophisticated and rigorous analysis to track, report, and communicate progress against our targets, the Office of Sustainability is hiring a new Director of Sustainability Analytics.
I’d like to thank each member of the Columbia community for your contributions toward these achievements and initiatives. I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together and look forward to the sustainability milestones yet to come.
Assistant Vice President, Office of Sustainability