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Academics, Equity & Resilience: Building Pitt’s First Climate Action Plan

The University of Pittsburgh’s sustainability journey has been expounding over three decades, including the first university-wide Pitt Sustainability Plan (2018) and first AASHE STARS designation (Silver 2018); in 2021, Pitt achieved AASHE STARS Gold. While the Pitt Sustainability Plan covers 15 impact areas with 61 goals, the global focus on climate change helped the University add the target of carbon neutrality by 2037 to the university’s existing goal of 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

Both science-based targets, the larger commitment also sets its sights on Pitt’s 250th birthday – and required the University to build on existing and develop new climate-related engagement, data, analysis, and strategy, even in the Covid-19 global pandemic. While the University of Pittsburgh has five GHG inventories dating back to 2008 and became a Second Nature Carbon Commitment signatory in February 2020, it had never established a climate action plan.

To help others consider and approach their own climate action plans, this session will demonstrate the process, outcomes and roadmap to our neutrality plan while discussing how three key cross-cutting themes of equity, academics and economics were positioned throughout.

This strategy will continue to add to the dialogue within and external to the higher education sustainability community on intentionality and impact of climate strategy and action, which must also enhances our educational missions; ensures equitable process and outcomes; and influence economic resilience for the institution and region by being mindful of externalities.

Developed entirely in the Covid-19 global pandemic, the Pitt Climate Action Plan (PittCAP) adheres to requirements while outlining existing incremental action-based targets to achieve a carbon neutral Pittsburgh campus by 2037 by:
• Reducing GHG emissions 50% by 2030 (from 2008 baseline).
• 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030 (& 100% by 2037).
• Achieving 2030 Challenge goals of 50% reduction in energy and water use intensity (consumption per square foot) by 2030 (below national and regional averages, respectively).
• 50% reductions in GHG emissions from commuter travel and direct transportation by 2030

Through partnerships, increased building and infrastructure efficiencies, expanded use of renewable energy sources, and other measures, Pitt is building on previous efforts (including an existing GHG emissions reduction of 22% between 2008 and 2017). Key initiatives to achieve our neutrality goal include reducing demand, cleaning our supply, making more low carbon connections, and leadership actions, all while enhancing our mission, equity, and resilience.

Register here.

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