ACUPCC Reporting System

Climate Action Plan for University of Colorado at Boulder

Submitted on October 15, 2009; last updated on October 15, 2009

Climate Action Plan Details

Climate Action Plan Conceptual Plan for Carbon Neutrality at the University of Colorado at Boulder
October 8, 2009
No information provided.
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Emissions Targets

Climate Neutrality Target
2099
If you have any qualifying statements with regard to the climate neutrality target date, please include them here, and/or if you have chosen "TBD" and not specified a neutrality date, please enter the reason and explain the process for establishing a target date in the future.

“What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future.”
Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC Chairman, November 2007

The concept of carbon neutrality on the Boulder campus is best thought of as a powerful incentive for aggressive short term action. The university’s plan sets out challenging but achievable short term goals (SEE BELOW) that will alter CU’s carbon emissions trajectory towards a tangible neutrality point as soon as possible. As CU implements these short term actions, long term carbon projections will be revisited. The goal for each review will be to forecast a credible and technically feasible carbon neutrality date.

While the purchase of carbon offsets would close the gap to neutrality at any point, diverting investment into offsets would eliminate funding for infrastructure and programming that can deliver sustainable emissions reductions for the short and long term. Accordingly, the university decided that offsets will not be considered as a viable mitigation tool.

The lessons of the Kyoto Protocol teach a more focused and performance-based approach to attaining carbon neutrality. Instead of setting long term deadlines that may inspire procrastination, an emphasis on short term action and transparent performance monitoring underpins this plan. The university will be judged not by the distant date declared as the neutrality point our successors must fulfill, but by the achievements made in the short term. In doing so, excuses for inaction are eliminated. Deferring to a distant date is not possible when deadlines loom even as this report is written.

Yet, in focusing on robust short term action, we are embracing and accelerating our ultimate neutrality date, not eschewing it. Indeed, all of higher education and the society the university serves is moving from this age of promises into a new age of performance. This plan is a performance plan, not a promise. This plan seeks to inspire the best within us now to effect aggressive action today. And those actions have already begun.

Interim Milestone Emission-Reduction Target Target Date Baseline
20% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2 Emissions by 2020 relative to baseline emissions in 2005
50% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2 Emissions by 2030 relative to baseline emissions in 2005
80% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2 Emissions by 2050 relative to baseline emissions in 2005
70% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2080 relative to baseline emissions in 2005
80% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2090 relative to baseline emissions in 2005
90% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2099 relative to baseline emissions in 2005
Nonstandard Emissions Targets
Please enter below any targets that do not fit into the above format.

Please ignore the above Emission-Reduction Target (The university does not purchase heat. However, the web software required one input before this report would be published). Likewise, the above format does not allow the designation of a 2005 baseline. Below are the goals we have established relative to that date.

By 2012 attain the following goals as compared to a 2005 baseline:
• 20 percent energy intensity reduction
• 20 percent reduction of paper consumption
• 10 percent reduction in water consumption
• 25 percent volumetric reduction in petroleum fuel use
• A “zero-waste” goal for all construction projects and the operations of all facilities.

Concurrent GHG goals relative to a 2005 baseline are:
• Phase 1, Conservation and Cogeneration (2010–2020)
Goal: 20 percent GHG reduction by 2020
• Phase 2, Large-Scale Renewables (2020–2030)
Goal: 50 percent GHG reduction by 2030
• Phase 3, Innovative Technologies (2030+)
Goal: 80 percent GHG reduction by 2050

Narratives

Please describe your institution's greenhouse gas mitigation strategies.

The university has approved an overall short-term implementation approach, phasing in actions and activities over four time periods and implementing a list of projects designed to pursue carbon neutrality as soon as possible. These four time windows and their GHG reduction benchmarks (2005 baseline), with some overlap between the first two, are listed below:

• Governor’s Executive Order Phase (2009–2012)
? Goal: 20 percent energy, vehicle fuel, and materials reduction by 2012
• Phase 1, Conservation and Cogeneration (2010–2020)
? Goal: 20 percent GHG reduction by 2020
• Phase 2, Large-Scale Renewables (2020–2030)
? Goal: 50 percent GHG reduction by 2030
• Phase 3, Innovative Technologies (2030+)
? Goal: 80 percent GHG reduction by 2050

The above phases and primary GHG emission reduction goals were informed by the literature and working group deliberations and then projected by a GHG emissions model developed by CU and reviewed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Please describe your institution's plans to make sustainability a part of the curriculum for all students.

To further the goal of strengthening sustainability in the curriculum, Chancellor DiStefano has approved the establishment of an exploratory committee of faculty members to develop the tenets and plan for a possible sustainability initiative. This committee will be comprised of teaching and research faculty from nearly all the colleges at the university. Specific charges for the committee include:

• Complete an inventory of campus resources, especially research resources and funding sources, but also including teaching, classes, etc.
• Complete an inventory of leadership programs nationally and internationally, helping to identify and define CU niche/role.
• Develop curriculum options and alternatives related to Sustainability at CU, building upon (not instead of) current strengths (undergraduate certificates, minors, majors, graduate program(s), Program in Writing and Rhetoric, and Residential Academic Programs) and possible funding sources.
• Form faculty working groups: Research and Funding; Undergraduate Certificate; Graduate Collaboration; PWR curriculum; Residential Academic Program/Department of Housing and Dining Living and Learning collaborative efforts; and Outreach and Colorado Engagement options.
• Identify strategic gaps and synergies worthy of investment for multiplier effects.
• Develop an understanding of the economics, and what success looks like for evaluation purposes.

The committee will be formed and convene during the summer of 2009. A kick-off workshop will be offered early during the fall semester. A report including recommendations and next steps will be delivered to the Provost and Chancellor by November 30, 2009.

Please describe your institution's plans to expand research efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality.

No information provided

Please describe your institution's plans to expand community outreach efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality.

While Scope 3 emissions are difficult to mitigate (since CU neither owns or directly controls their release) they also present an important economic and carbon reducing opportunity--while fostering broad community outreach and engagement.

In short, it takes two to release carbon. A willing buyer and a willing seller create a product or service—and carbon is released. However, if CU focuses on reducing consumption, then CU saves money and lessens the upstream release of carbon. Likewise, if CU works with suppliers to research new ways of delivering needed products or services while minimizing or eliminating carbon, CU can push beyond carbon neutrality. Upstream emission reductions won’t directly benefit CU’s carbon inventory; however, as a leadership university CU has committed itself to the broader global community. This effort is consistent with that mission.