Johns Hopkins sustainability report shows progress on greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal

In advance of Earth Week, Johns Hopkins University's Office of Sustainability has released a sustainability report detailing progress to date in reducing the university's greenhouse gas emissions and sharing other key metrics and highlights on initiatives across all campuses.

In 2007, Johns Hopkins pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent by 2025; in 2015, greenhouse gas emissions were down 30 percent from 2007.

"The 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions achieved so far highlights what can happen when partners across the institution collaborate in working toward the common goals of environmental health and protection," said Bob McLean, vice president for facilities and real estate. "The report sets the stage for the remaining progress to be made by 2025. In the spirit of President Daniels' Ten by Twenty, particularly his One University and Institution Building priorities, Earth Week is a time to both celebrate our commitment and encourage continued leadership in sustainability."

In 2007, Johns Hopkins pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent by 2025; in 2015, greenhouse gas emissions were down 30 percent from 2007.

The new report analyzes data from fiscal year 2015, noting that despite the building and population expansion of Johns Hopkins, the rate at which Hopkins consumes energy has increased at a much slower rate. The building footprint of Johns Hopkins has increased 9.3 percent since fiscal year 2008; its total energy consumption has increased by 4.6 percent.

"What these metrics tell us is that we're moving in the right direction, but we still have important work to do to embed sustainability in decision making, operations, and university culture," said Ashley Pennington, program manager for the Office of Sustainability. "To be successful, we need every member of our community to play a part. Earth Week provides a time to come together in that mission, and deepen engagement through a variety informative and interactive programs."

The report includes a snapshot of university and campus-based performance, highlighting specific initiatives implemented by Johns Hopkins divisions to improve sustainability. In addition to the university's efforts, improvements to the regional electricity grid—which now consumes more natural gas and renewable resources, and less coal—has helped the university reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Applied Physics Laboratory: APL's energy demand has increased as its campus has grown, explaining its 8 percent increase in energy consumption since 2008. However, its greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 23 percent since 2008, and it has received $1.5 million in utility rebates for energy conservation.

  • Bloomberg School of Public Health: Greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 25 percent since 2008, and the Bloomberg School has led all university divisions with its waste diversion efforts. More than 170,000 pounds of compostable materials have been collected, and the school has a waste diversion rate of 73.2 percent, compared with the university's 44 percent overall.

  • Greater Homewood: Greater Homewood includes the Homewood campus and adjacent properties, Housing and Dining, the School of Education, and all the Sheridan Library buildings. Energy consumption for these facilities has increased since 2008, largely as a result of the significant growth in population and buildings. Greater Homewood has produced $1.1 million in utility rebates since 2008 and offers more than 100 courses with sustainability themes to students.

  • Housing and Dining: Approximately 46 percent of Housing and Dining's energy was derived from electricity, with the remaining energy produced from natural gas and chilled water and steam. The student move-out initiative Spring Cleaning with a Meaning promotes recycling and reuse of apparel, housewares, and small appliances. In 2015, the program expanded to include the donation of toiletries and nonperishable food items to local nonprofits.

  • Keswick and Mount Washington campuses: The university began moving tenants into Keswick in 2011, and as the location's occupancy grows, its energy use rises. However, the two campuses combined have produced fewer greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 than the Mount Washington campus produced alone in 2008. Cleaner energy from the grid helped mitigate an emissions increase.

  • Montgomery County campus: Since 2008, the Montgomery County campus has reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent. 98 percent of copy paper used at the facilities contains at least 30 percent recycled material, and because of its proximity to D.C., the campus participates in the Capital Bikeshare program, which encourages people to travel the city by bicycle.

  • Peabody Institute: Older buildings face greater obstacles to reduce emissions, the report notes. However, since 2008, Peabody has reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent, collected $81,000 in utility rebates for energy conservation, and installed 20 bottle-filling stations to reduce bottled-water waste and encourage reuse.

  • School of Medicine: Greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 30 percent since 2008. The School of Medicine has collected $2 million in utilities rebates for energy conservation measures since 2008 and generated 151 MWh of energy from solar panels in 2015.

  • School of Nursing: Even as the School of Nursing increases its number of students and employees, the facilities have maintained a consistent level of energy consumption. Solar panels contribute to 17 MWh of electricity.

  • Washington, D.C. Center: The D.C. Center has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by 44 percent since 2008 and offers 79 courses with sustainability themes.

The Office of Sustainability, along with partners across the JHU campuses, has planned a weeklong celebration of conservation, sustainability, and environmental efforts for Earth Week April 18-22. The week will culminate with the annual Green Blue Jay Awards Ceremony, where the office will recognize sustainability champions from Hopkins and the community. Learn more and see the full calendar of events on the Office of Sustainability website.

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