As the Johns Hopkins community celebrates Earth Week, the Office of Sustainability released a report today that the university has achieved a 35 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over five years, among other strong results for its sustainability efforts.
"With cleaner energy from our suppliers, several new systems that use natural gas more efficiently, and seven solar panel arrays … we have eliminated more than 465,000 tons of greenhouse gases and saved roughly $50 million in energy costs over five years," said Alan Fish, vice president for facilities and real estate, in a message to the university community today.
Those results represent a significant step toward the university's goal to reduce emissions by 51 percent between 2008 and 2025.
"Across our campuses, projects large and small are helping us conserve resources and be more efficient," Fish said. "Sensors in our classrooms, laboratories, and offices help cut down our electricity, heating, and cooling costs. Systems on buildings at the School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health collect and reuse rainwater. Vegetated roofs manage stormwater and reduce the temperature for Homewood's South Garage, the Cordish Lacrosse Building, and projects on the medical campus. Blue Jay Shuttles run on compressed natural gas."
Scholarship in sustainability-related areas has grown, too, with a steady increase in students choosing the Global Environmental Change and Sustainability major and minor. The university also established the Energy, Environment, Sustainability and Health Institute (E2SHI) to facilitate interdisciplinary and interdivisional projects focusing on research, education, and policy. The institute provides resources for students interested in incorporating sustainability into their studies and facilitates seminars that showcase how research here can have impacts across the world.
Measurements of the university's progress and a recap of actions across campuses appear in the Johns Hopkins Climate Action Plan—Five Year Progress Review, compiled in March 2014. A committee of 10 administrators, faculty members, and students conducted the review and used it as an opportunity to consider the next steps for sustainability efforts. Their recommendations are:
Develop additional metrics for measuring energy consumption per square foot to better track conservation efforts while accounting for the addition of new buildings and workspaces
Make utility billing separate from space rates in order to help departments (and other users) see their energy use and be incentivized to reduce it
Incorporate sustainability at the earliest stage of project planning and maintenance in deliberate ways, such as in capital planning and budgeting, deferred maintenance planning, contract negotiations and RFPs
Set an institutionwide waste diversion goal to encourage more people to use less materials and recycle more
Investigate the impact of and opportunities associated with university-related transportation
"These recommendations offer new ways to keep the university community focused on efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy while encouraging measurable steps toward our 2020 goals," says Ashley Pennington, senior program coordinator for the JHU Office of Sustainability.
"The report also provides an opportunity to see how far we have come in making sustainability an integrated part of our operations and university culture," she says. "From the buildings where we work to the efforts of our enthusiastic Green Teams, our mission to drive for a cleaner, healthier future starts right here on our own campuses."
The Office of Sustainability will facilitate the implementation of the new recommendations and prepare updates on the university's sustainability progress in coming years. That office also offers information and tools for members of the Johns Hopkins community to join the conservation efforts.