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University unveils Climate Action Plan

For President Lois B. DeFleur, setting and implementing goals for climate neutrality is more than just a proper course for the University to take.

“It is not only the right thing to do for the campus, but the right thing to do for our nation and for the world,” she said. “It is the right time to do it. We have to begin: All of our futures are at stake here.”

DeFleur was joined by University officials at Bingham Hall on Nov. 30 as the University released its Climate Action Plan, which outlines its long-term goal of reducing the campus’ carbon footprint and enhancing its overall sustainability. The plan will help move the University toward a goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

Binghamton’s report fulfills the pledge that DeFleur made in 2007 to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACCUPCC), which called for the University to assess its greenhouse gas emission levels and submit a long-range plan to reduce its carbon footprint. DeFleur was among the first of more than 650 college and university leaders to sign the pledge.

DeFleur then formed a task force of faculty, staff and students to review the University’s operations and activities. The group identified technical and cost-effective solutions in the areas of purchased electricity, on-campus heating fuels and campus commutes.

Recommendations in the 32-page Climate Action Plan include:

• Enforcing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver or higher standards on all new construction and renovation.

• Enhancing energy-efficiency projects.

• Expanding solar energy projects and initiatives.

• Exploring the conversion to biomass for heat production.

• Lowering hot-water temperature output to improve boiler efficiencies.

• Offering incentives for car-pooling, including reserved-preferred parking.

The plan also includes renewed focus in the University’s sustainability education, research and community outreach activities. This focus includes enhancing sustainability courses and practical learning opportunities as well as continued efforts in research areas such as watershed and solar power.

Progress on the plan will be tracked using billing data and measurements for areas such as purchased electricity and renewable energy credits. The University will also track progress made in the areas of education, research and community outreach.

“This is a multi-faceted type of commitment,” DeFleur said. “Since we are a large, complex university, this is a very ambitious and challenging task.”

DeFleur emphasized that many of the initiatives will take a significant amount of time. For example, the target completion date for a small-scale solar thermal system for domestic hot-water preheating is 2025.

But DeFleur also stressed that the campus community is already working toward creating a more energy-efficient University. This is evidenced by a 14 percent reduction in campus energy usage since 2000.

“Every constituency on campus is committed to this, whether it is our administrative staff, faculty or students,” she said. “People aren’t just saying, ‘We should do this.’ They are enthusiastically behind this wide range of projects.”

James VanVoorst, vice president for administration, pointed to the recently built Bingham Hall as an example of where the University is headed in its building construction and renovations.

He called Bingham Hall the model for future East Campus housing.

“As we look at the design and structure of the building, we took into account the LEED aspect,” he said, referring to the measuring tool of building efficiency. “In (Bingham), we used recycled materials and the equipment we put in is energy efficient. From the beginning to the operation, those are the commitments you are making.”

VanVoorst also praised the daily operation of the campus: Taking care of trash, recycling, and competitions among residential communities to reduce energy usage have had an impact on the environment.

“There’s a substantial effort being made by the entire campus to make us more energy efficient,” he said. “It’s a community-wide effort on campus.”

To read the Climate Action Plan, go to


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Last Updated: 10/14/08