Please describe your institution's greenhouse gas mitigation strategies.
This Climate Action Plan is a guide for how Case Western Reserve University intends to achieve carbon neutrality. It reflects the insights and ideas of people across the campus—students, staff, faculty and administrative leaders—as well as technical support from outside experts. Over the past several months, working groups focused their
efforts around two primary objectives:
1. Creation of a plan that gives equal consideration to education, research, community and facilities.
2. Emphasis on acceleration of the university’s carbon emissions mitigation activity through strategic and immediate investment in existing and new initiatives.
Case Western Reserve’s inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions in fiscal year 2009 identified 263,218 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). This plan looks at ways to reduce these emissions, and employs a cost-effective hierarchy of:
• First, working to avoid demand for additional energy
• Second, reducing energy demand in existing facilities and equipment
• Third, making investments that replace carbon-intensive fuel sources with alternatives
• Fourth—and as a measure of last resort—purchasing offsets to balance remaining emissions
This plan details both near- and long-term mitigation strategies, along with their expected impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. A graphic summary of approaches and results is found in Figure 1 on page 11. Strategies include programs to stimulate behavior change, new
architectural design standards, more efficient use of building space, energy conservation initiatives in existing buildings, and investments in existing- and new-energy infrastructure. Working groups considered
each mitigation strategy not only for its carbon impact and position in the carbon hierarchy, but also for its financial impact on the university.
As a complement to these facilities-related strategies, the plan also recommends innovation in the undergraduate and graduate curricula, community life, program activity and administrative policies and procedures.
Of the full collection of steps, four immediate initiatives are critically important:
• Creation of a sustainability officer position within Campus Planning and Facilities Management.
• Formation of a committee of administrators and faculty to review the undergraduate and graduate curricula with regard to issues of climate neutrality and sustainability.
• Engagement in the Medical Center Company’s strategic planning process, specifically with regard to its transition away from coal use.
• Renewed commitment to sustainability leadership in Cleveland and the region.
Please describe your institution's plans to make sustainability a part of the
curriculum for all students.
University scholars in the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, engineering, management and medicine—to name a few areas of study—are working on sustainability issues. Case Western Reserve is committed to supporting and expanding the work of these scholars
through the efforts of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value, Great Lakes Energy Institute, the Sustainability Alliance and other sustainability initiatives.
In many areas, the curriculum at Case Western Reserve already actively engages students on problems of climate and sustainability. In the Weatherhead School of Management, sustainability is one of the two MBA program themes from which students choose. Additionally, sustainability is woven into every core class at some level. The school is moving forward with plans to include sustainability, as one of two theme options, into undergraduate curriculum, as well.
Additionally, a multidisciplinary undergraduate major and minor in environmental studies has been offered in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1995. Faculty in seven departments teach required courses, and electives are available across four areas: arts and sciences, engineering, medicine and management.
University faculty members continually pursue research opportunities to expand the curriculum and broaden the institution’s research endeavors. Active engagement of emerging technologies is a constant concern for the technically focused disciplines on campus.
Finally, Case Western Reserve has several active sustainability-related student groups. These include the Student Sustainability Council, Engineers Without Borders and Net Impact. The Residence Hall Association also has an active sustainability program. Case Western Reserve is committed to improving student engagement with sustainability-related issues. As an outcome of the Climate Action Plan, the university is considering a number of steps, including:
• Initiating a clearly focused review of environmental/sustainability education to produce a plan that will guide revisions to curriculum
• Creating incentives to increase the development rate of sustainability-related courses and/or course content
• Sponsoring an ongoing campus-wide lecture series that will feature speakers in sustainability and climate neutrality
• Developing content for new-student orientation as a tool for undergraduate engagement
• Expanding the Summer Undergraduate Research in Energy and
Sustainability program to further support undergraduate research in energy-related fields. Expansion will focus on increasing activity overall; broadening the scope beyond the natural sciences and engineering to include fields such as the humanities, social sciences, arts, management and health; and to support work in sustainability
areas other than energy.
• Creating an idea bank—an internally funded competition for research projects that would use the campus as a laboratory to investigate potential improvements for long-term benefits related to campus carbon reduction and energy/utility costs.
• Running an annual competition for university-funded externships that would enable undergraduates to work with external (local, national or international) organizations doing sustainability or climate-change related work.
Please describe your institution's plans to expand community outreach efforts toward the
achievement of climate neutrality.
Case Western Reserve adopted two principles to guide the university’s community outreach and campus life activities related to climate change.
The first of those principles is that culture change is motivated by leadership-supported programs, services and initiatives that serve to educate, motivate and engage the campus community. The second is that citizenship is reinforced through constant and visible cues of associated cultural norms. In other words, campus climate neutrality cannot be achieved without a culture of sustainability.
The university will consider steps to launch outreach and campus-life activities that support these principles. These include:
• Providing information about the university’s commitment to supporting climate neutrality at a wide variety of major university-sponsored forums
• Regularly reviewing the university’s sustainability successes and continuing to invest in those efforts that prove most effective
• Conducting regular surveys to gauge attitude, participation and best direction for community outreach and campus life initiatives.
• Rewarding individuals who make significant contributions to the university’s carbon reduction-related initiatives
• Supporting and coordinating with carbon reduction-related curriculum
• Encouraging green practices by campus administrative units