UO report shows progress in Climate Action Plan
EUGENE, Ore. -- (July 18, 2012) – Two years after the University of Oregon adopted a Climate Action Plan aimed at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions on campus by 2050, UO sustainability leaders have established a foundation to work from and identified both short- and long-term objectives for the push to climate neutrality.
The UO’s recently submitted Climate Action Plan Progress Report draws together many of the university’s sustainability efforts – from broad policies to specific measures for reducing emissions, to new academic and co-curricular initiatives designed to educate the next generation of leaders.
The most recent report also points out an encouraging trend: the university’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased in each of the three most recent fiscal years, after increasing in each of the previous three years.
“Despite tough financial conditions, our people continue to respond with creative approaches to energy efficiency and develop new curriculum to prepare future leaders for the world they’ll inherit,” said Steve Mital the University of Oregon’s sustainability director.
The UO adopted the Oregon Model for Sustainable Development last August, capping energy use from new development to achieve a net-zero increase in energy use despite continued construction on the 295-acre campus. New projects are required to meet LEED Gold certification and must produce 35 percent greater energy savings than the state's building code requires.
Two months later, the university joined with 32 other leading institutions to launch the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, creating a $1 million revolving loan fund to help pay for upgrades that will be required by the Oregon Model for Sustainable Development.
The UO initiated the one-year Oregon Leadership in Sustainability graduate certificate program a year ago, offering applied skills training in variousareas of sustainability. The university’s Sustainable City Year program just completed its third year and has harnessed a total of 200,000 hours of work from 1,300 students in 13 UO departments to serve the sustainability needs of three Oregon cities. And a Green Office Certification Program began on campus this spring, offering recognition to UO offices that follow policies and practices recommended by the university’s Office of Sustainability for reducing their environmental footprints.
The UO also is in the middle of a lighting upgrade, replacing outmoded T12 fluorescent light tubes with energy-efficient T8 tubes; the project will save more than $98,000 and 1.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The university has hired a Portland firm to create an online dashboard that will measure daily energy use in campus buildings.
But the UO still faces a long road to climate neutrality. A YouTube videocreated to offer an overview of the university’s progress toward sustainability points out a pair of significant obstacles: natural gas accounts for 53 percent of the energy used by the UO, and 45 percent of all emissions; and air travel by faculty, staff and athletes accounts for just 10 percent of energy used, but 42 percent of the emissions.
“Our goal to eliminate emissions requires finding low-carbon substitutes for natural gas to heat campus and jet fuel for air travel,” the video concludes.
About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.
MEDIA CONTACT:Joe Mosley, UO communications, 541-346-3606, email@example.com
SOURCE:Steve Mital, UO sustainability director, 541-346-0709, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with satellite uplink capacity, and a radio studio with an ISDN phone line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.