University of Pittsburgh Announces Commitment to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2037

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The University of Pittsburgh will unveil its climate neutrality commitment at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The goal of 2037, its 250th anniversary, is a significant announcement–it is about what we are doing to make a tangible, measurable, impact on the climate crisis.

Through partnerships, increased building and infrastructure efficiencies, expanded use of renewable energy sources and other measures, Pitt will build on the success of its ambitious Sustainability Plan and existing greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 22% between 2008 and 2017. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will sign the Second Nature Climate Leadership Statement and Carbon Commitment. This makes Pitt the ninth largest among Association of American Universities institutions nationwide to pursue a net zero carbon footprint. Key initiatives to achieve this goal include:

+ Building Efficiency: With 130 buildings, including 14 projects certified under U.S. Green Building Council standards, Pitt will continue to pursue its sustainability efforts of a 50% reduction in energy use by 2030 in existing facilities. For new construction, the goal is an 80% reduction by 2030 in support of the 2037 neutrality goal.

 + Renewable Energy: The University has committed to purchase at least 50% of campus electricity from renewable sources by 2030, including from a low-impact hydroelectric power plant in the Allegheny River that will come online by 2023.

 + Infrastructure Efficiency: In 2009, Pitt built one of the most efficient steam plants in the nation on Carrillo Street, which has helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions to date. The University is also growing its current fleet of five zero emissions electric vehicles. Efficiencies in purchasing supply chains, materials diversion, greater utilization of active and shared transportation modes and offsets will also help Pitt to become carbon neutral.

 + Leadership and Collaboration: Students, faculty and staff have embraced Pitt’s commitment to sustainability and continue to develop new initiatives, many with funding support. In addition to the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, Pitt has a Student Office of Sustainability that supports 27 affiliated student organizations. Other offerings include the  undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability, the cross-disciplinary Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and the new Center for Sustainable Business, housed at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the College of Business Administration.

“As a University, we have made great strides in supporting sustainable practices, teaching, research and partnerships through innovation and collaboration. But we can—and must—do more,” said Aurora Sharrard, Pitt’s director of sustainability. “We will continue to engage across campus, Pittsburgh, the U.S. and the world to ensure equitable access and opportunity for shared prosperity among all members of the Pitt community and beyond.”

The University’s pledge exceeds the carbon reduction targets of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Pittsburgh. Pitt’s progress toward carbon neutrality will be shared via a newly created online “sustainability dashboard” updated by the University’s Office of Sustainability.

“Congratulations to Chancellor Gallagher and the University of Pittsburgh for today making a bold commitment to carbon neutrality,” said Timothy Carter, president of Second Nature. “This is an essential step of leadership that elevates the city of Pittsburgh’s position as one of the key hubs of climate action for our country. On behalf of Second Nature and the Climate Leadership Network, we look forward to sharing resources, relationships and knowledge to help them reach their carbon neutrality goal by 2037.”



Kevin Zwick
Communications Manager University of Pittsburgh

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