Northwestern unveils first plan for sustainability

Northwestern unveils first plan for sustainability

Northwestern University has unveiled its first Strategic Sustainability Plan, a five-part policy for its Chicago and Evanston campuses.

The plan's goals include getting the entire Northwestern vehicle fleet running on renewable energy by 2030, reducing campus landfill waste by 50 percent by 2020, reducing energy consumption in campus facilities by 20 percent by 2020 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Independent third parties will measure the school's progress, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The university's waste management company will provide insight on how much is recycled, for example.

Results will be published annually on the NU and Department of Energy websites, and abbreviated results will be hand-delivered to the mayors' offices in Chicago and Evanston, said John D'Angelo, Northwestern's vice president of facilities management, who is leading the program.

Northwestern uses a total of 181 kilo British Thermal Units per square foot annually, slightly more than nearby Loyola University Chicago. In 2016 the Sierra Club also ranked Loyola the seventh-greenest college in America; Loyola was the only Chicago school to crack the top 90.

In November, Loyola will receive a Climate Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council for reducing its carbon emissions by 38 percent from 2008 to 2016. Loyola is the only four-year university to receive the award, officials said.

D'Angelo said the formal plan started about a year ago, and was developed as a way to consolidate the independent activities of students, faculty, staff and researchers. He brought the groups together because he wanted to figure out how Northwestern can deliver a better, more usable environment among its buildings and green spaces.

Northwestern also wanted to take stock of its total carbon footprint. Students today have an increased understanding about the effects of climate change and are going to hold Northwestern accountable for resources used, says Provost Jonathan Holloway.

In developing the plan, the university discovered a few ways to cut consumption. Northwestern has recently celebrated a number of sustainable firsts.

In early 2016, Northwestern converted all its outdoor lamps to LEDs, cutting energy usage for outdoor lighting by more than 50 percent. As of July, the university also reduced its energy consumption across its Evanston and Chicago campuses by 14 percent from 2010.

Over the past 10 months, officials said, Northwestern replaced about 15 of his department's vehicles with electric cars. The university anticipates that will save about $30,000 annually in gas costs.


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