U.Va. partners with William & Mary to reach carbon neutrality by 2030

Board of Visitors will discuss the new sustainability proposal Friday

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The University announced in September that it met carbon reduction goals six years ahead of schedule. Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

The University’s Office of Sustainability has released a statement in conjunction with the College of William & Mary outlining a joint effort to have zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

These two institutions plan to share information and resources to achieve carbon neutrality. They intend to collaborate on internal engagement opportunities as well as outreach initiatives in the greater Virginia area and within other higher education institutions. 

Although now choosing to work collaboratively with William & Mary, the University has been working to reduce its carbon footprint for nearly the last decade. This renewed commitment to be a climate-conscious university follows an independent plan enacted in 2011, when the Board of Visitors approved a plan committed to reducing the University’s 2009 carbon emission levels by 25 percent by 2025. The University’s Committee on Sustainability announced at a Board meeting in September that this goal is set to be reached by the end of this year, six years ahead of schedule. 

In anticipation of this achievement, the University is striving to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions further through this joint commitment with the College of William & Mary.

Andrea Trimble, director of the University’s Office of Sustainability, elaborated on the impetus for collaboration with the nearby college and the reasons behind this new commitment in a joint press release. 

“The potential to work with the surrounding region, as well as other institutions of higher education, including William & Mary, offers a leadership and partnership opportunity that will scale up equitable climate change solutions on Grounds and beyond,” Trimble said. 

Trimble then noted the mutually beneficial nature of this collaboration and its potential to benefit those outside of the two school communities.

“Both parties could benefit from swifter climate action, pooled resources and knowledge, a more regional focus on climate action and the potential to replicate and amplify the impacts beyond the two schools,” she said.

The University’s Office of Sustainability has cited several challenges they will face in an effort to become a more sustainable university including the anticipated environmental impacts of new construction and student population growth as well as emissions resulting from commuting to and around Grounds. The University reportedly plans to gather data and formulate strategies to reduce its carbon footprint in these areas. 

The Board is scheduled to convene Friday to consider the new sustainability proposal including internal environmentally-conscious changes regarding plans to expand plant-based meal offerings, switching to sustainably-raised meats, reducing food waste, and increasing access to and sourcing from local foods. 

The climate action collaboration of these two Commonwealth schools comes just shortly after an executive order by Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., outlining similar statewide goals. In September, Northam signed into effect statewide goals for clean energy use, seeking to eliminate carbon as an energy source in all of Virginia by 2050. 

Should the University and William & Mary reach carbon neutrality by 2030, they will be 20 years ahead of the governor’s plan. 

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