We believe universities have an obligation to do our part in addressing climate change, which the United Nations calls “the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment.”
The University of Pittsburgh has committed to becoming carbon neutral on its Pittsburgh campus by 2037, its 250th anniversary. Through partnerships, increased commitments to building and infrastructure efficiencies, expanded use of renewable energy sources and other measures, we will build on the success of our ambitious Sustainability Plan and existing greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 22% between 2008 and 2017 to reach net zero.
On February 28, 2020, Pitt’s Board of Trustees voted in its public meeting to adopt a resolution of support for the actions by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, who announced that he has signed 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 Sustainability Council, 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.