PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University today joined more than two-dozen higher education institutions worldwide to be leaders in sustainable practices on university campuses and to incorporate sustainability into teaching, the university announced.
The announcement comes as Brown President Ruth J. Simmons signed the Sustainable Campus Charter today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The charter commits the signatory universities to campuswide principles and measurable goals for sustainable development, construction, and operations. In addition, the universities involved have committed to incorporating the study of sustainability principles and practice into their educational offerings.
The charter stems from the International Campus Sustainability Network (ICSN). The signing ceremony occurred at the Global University Leadership Forum (GULF), part of the World Economic Forum.
“Universities around the world are already confronting issues of sustainability, both in their laboratories and in their business operations,” Simmons said. “The Sustainable Campus Charter will keep these issues in focus and enlarge the community of academic and civic leaders who are productively engaged in the important principles of conservation, sustainability and environmental health.”
In January 2008, Simmons announced an aggressive plan for Brown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings to 42 percent below 2007 levels by 2020. Since then, the University has made great strides toward that goal and received national recognition for its efforts. In the last two fiscal years, Brown has reduced its energy-related carbon footprint by nearly 19 percent, well above the 8 percent originally targeted, according to its latest Sustainability Progress Report.
Further reductions were realized through energy efficiency initiatives undertaken by Facilities Management. Among the most noticeable programs were replacing traditional light switches with motion-sensor lighting in several campus buildings and installing higher-efficiency burners. Brown cut its emissions further by reusing more of the heat returning from its hot water pipes and turning it into electricity at the University’s cogeneration plant. The central plant provides hot water through seven miles of pipes on campus.
In addition, the University raised its waste-recycling rate in fiscal 2009 to 38 percent — its highest rate ever and an increase of five percentage points from the previous fiscal year. In all, more than 505 tons of curbside recycling were collected across campus last fiscal year.
Brown has pledged to ensure that major renovations to existing buildings and all new construction will, at a minimum,
meet a silver standard in the nationally recognized Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and that all building designs be at least 25 percent more energy efficient than required by state building energy codes.
In recognition of its efforts, Brown received an A- in the most recent College Sustainability Report Card, the only independent evaluation of campus and endowment sustainability activities at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.
Other signatories to the charter include the presidents of Georgetown, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Higher-education institutions outside the United States that also signed the charter include the Indian Institute of Technology–Madras, the London Business School, the London School of Economics, the National University of Singapore, Peking University, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology–Zurich.
At the signing ceremony, the universities also pledged to promote the development greater access to essential medicines and the sharing of their digital teaching materials for underserved populations.