History

Syracuse University’s initiatives to promote what is now known as “sustainability” began with a concerted effort to increase campus energy efficiency over 40 years ago. Thus, when Chancellor Cantor signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), (now Second Nature), in 2007, SU was already operating more sustainably than many of its peer institutions.

John Crouse College of Fine Arts, dedicated 1889

By signing the ACUPCC, which is a recognition for the urgent need to address climate disruption, SU committed to broaden and deepen its sustainability efforts. A Sustainability Division was created within Energy and Computing Management (now Energy Systems and Sustainability Management), and tasked with facilitating the University’s fulfillment of the Climate Commitment. As a result, SU has

  • Conducted and published greenhouse gas inventories dating back to 2001.
  • Created and implemented a Climate Action Plan designed to achieve “carbon neutrality” (zero net GHG emissions) by 2040.
  • Presented at national, regional and NYS campus sustainability-related conferences.
  • Hosted a conference of the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium.
  • Engaged students, faculty, and the community at large with sustainability information disseminated through web and social media channels.
  • Incorporated sustainability information into campus events.
  • Developed and implemented a wide range of programs to promote sustainable campus operations. These include:
    • Low-emission transportation service for students, faculty and staff
    • A policy encouraging the purchase of environmentally-friendly products
    • Increased flexibility in employee work scheduling and telecommuting
    • Campus “Green Days”, which minimize energy use over the year-end holidays
    • Installation of solar thermal arrays on some South Campus apartment buildings
    • Conversion to energy-efficient lighting and heating systems across campus
    • Increasing the efficiency of SU’s campus Steam Station operations

In 2011, SU appointed its first Vice President for Sustainability Initiatives moving SU to the next level of excellence in sustainability scholarship and practice. Academics in sustainability incorporate University operational resources into our ‘Campus as a Lab’ curriculum. Faculty promote sustainability knowledge to action across many disciplines. Newly established undergraduate and graduate academic programs concentrating on sustainability are available. A wide range of sustainability topics are covered in our course offerings and  co-curricular opportunities. SU continues to develop and lead collaborations to advance sustainability throughout our region and beyond.