Five steps added for reaching sustainability goals

With strong results to show for its recent sustainability efforts, Johns Hopkins University is adopting five new task-force recommendations that will enhance its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025 and broaden its approach holistically.

Since the first JHU President's Task Force on Climate Change convened in 2007, a wide range of efforts has helped the university eliminate more than 465,000 tons of greenhouse gases and save roughly $50 million in energy costs. Widespread use of light sensors, more-energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems, vegetated roofs on Homewood's South Garage and Cordish Lacrosse Center, Blue Jay Shuttles powered by compressed natural gas, new solar panel arrays, and significant recycling efforts by students, faculty, and staff have all advanced the universitywide commitment to sustainability.

The university also saw reductions in its environmental impact because its power suppliers are using cleaner energy sources and better technology.

Measurements of the university's progress and a recap of actions across campuses appear in the 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. Going forward, they recommended that the university:

  • 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 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 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 in coming years prepare updates on the university's sustainability progress. That office also offers information and tools for members of the Johns Hopkins community to join the conservation efforts.

The five-year report and more information about sustainability efforts are available at

Posted in University News

Tagged sustainability