News Release:

Dec. 15,  2011

Emory Announces Climate Action Plan, Carbon Reduction Goals

News Article ImageFew Residence Hall received gold certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Emory University has adopted a Climate Action Plan that chronicles the university’s sustainability efforts to date, and sets forth a series of goals and recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future, ultimately down by 85 percent per square foot by 2050.

The plan proposes a comprehensive approach to reach these goals and recommends emission reduction strategies in a number of categories. These areas include sustainable building and construction, energy, transportation, waste management, food, procurement, academic programs and individual action.

At the mid-point of Emory’s 10-year Strategic Plan, the university is on track to achieve many goals outlined in its sustainability initiative. Emory has made steady progress in the area of energy reduction. Over the last five years, total energy use is down more than 15 percent per square foot. Emory’s goal is to reduce energy use by 25 percent per square foot by 2015 from 2005 baseline levels.

“The Climate Action Plan builds on a strong base of institutional support and grassroots action,” says Ciannat Howett, director of Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives. “The next steps for reducing carbon emissions include maximizing energy efficiency in new construction and major renovation projects, promoting further alternatives to single occupancy vehicle use and partnering with suppliers and service providers to reach our goals.”

LEED-certified buildings, recycling initiative and sustainability courses gives Emory head start

The university has a head start with its large portfolio of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings, comprehensive alternative commuting program and programs to foster research and teaching in sustainability. Emory’s green building program is consistently ranked as one of the top American programs based on square footage of certified green building space, with nearly two million square feet certified.

The recycling initiative encourages every member of the Emory community to reduce, recycle and reuse to reduce the amount of waste sent to local landfills. Emory’s vision is to reduce waste by 65 percent and recycle 100 percent of its electronics waste and road construction materials. The university also anticipates composting, recycling or reusing at least 95 percent of its food waste and animal bedding by 2015.

Additionally, Emory has implemented initiatives designed to incorporate sustainability across the curriculum. Seventy-nine percent of academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences offer sustainability-related courses; a new sustainability minor launched in 2010.   

Matthew Early, Emory’s vice president for campus services, adds that “the Climate Action Plan outlines a series of energy-saving steps that Emory should be undertaking in any event in the coming years to save money and be wise stewards of our resources, with or without the threat of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. The case for minimizing energy usage through every means at our disposal is a compelling one and serves as a powerful motivator for this plan.”

Carbon offset purchases have not figured in the climate action goals and unlike some peer institutions, the scope of the plan and its carbon reduction goals include Emory Healthcare facilities on its main campus on Clifton Road.

The Climate Action Plan (PDF) was developed through the cooperation of two committees appointed by Emory President James Wagner, established in 2010. They studied the issues, assessed feasibility and conducted extensive outreach to develop ambitious and achievable goals for reducing Emory’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Climate Action Plan Goals (with a 2005 baseline):

  • By 2020: a 20 percent reduction in total emissions; 35 percent per square foot (based on projected growth in square footage).
  • By 2036: a 36 percent reduction in total emissions; 50 percent per square foot (based on projected growth in square footage).
  • By 2050: a 50 percent reduction in total emissions; 85 percent per square foot (based on projected growth in square footage).


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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