Boston University Sustainability
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Learning, Applying, and Influencing:

Decarbonization to Zero Waste

This year, BU Sustainability made progress integrating sustainability into the University's day-to-day life.

Influencing the advancement of sustainable design through its buildings. Making recommendations about what the University purchases and discards. Bringing together students and faculty for practical, productive research. These are just a few of the ways we’re making sustainability part of BU’s DNA.

Read our 2021 Sustainability Annual Report to learn about the advances we’ve made in the past year.

Welcome from the Associate Vice President

It is my pleasure to share with you Boston University’s 2021 Sustainability Annual Report, which covers calendar year 2021 with metrics for FY2021. We came together to develop new ways to learn and work, while safeguarding the health of our community. 

Thank you for your interest in Boston University's progress on its climate action and sustainability initiatives. One of the highlights of the year for me was receiving the EPA's Green Power Leadership Award. For more highlights, please choose to Learn More below.

Dennis Carlberg, AIA, LEED AP BD +C

Topics Include: Impact of COVID-19, Racial Equity and Social Justice, BU Wind, Zero Waste Plan, Electric Vehicles, Sustainable Purchasing 

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Countering Climate Change

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) recommends the University prepare for the impacts that a changing climate will bring to our campuses. This begins with new construction standards, including minimizing building below what the CAP defines as “elevation of resilience” (2′ above the top of the Charles River Dam).   

Topics Include: New Construction Standards, Design for Resiliency 

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Net-Zero Direct Emissions

The Climate Action Plan set a goal for Boston University to be net carbon neutral by 2040. Four strategies will help us get there: 

  1. Reduce emissions by 31% by 2032 through energy efficiency
  2. Shift from fossil-fuel use to electricity for heating and cooling so we can transition to renewable energy sources
  3. Source renewable energy to match 100% of the University’s electricity consumption 
  4. Transition BU’s fleet to electric vehicles

Topics Include: Reducing Demand, HVAC and Lighting Upgrades, Center for Computing & Data Sciences, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, LEED Buildings, Electric Vehicles 

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Address Indirect Emissions

The Climate Action Plan recommends that we work to curb our indirect emissions, which derive from how we move, what we buy, and what we waste.  

Topics Include: Zero Waste Plan, Sustainable Purchasing, Food-Waste Diversion, Emissions from Waste 

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Curriculum & Research

The Climate Action Plan proposes that issues of climate change and sustainability be part of every undergraduate’s educational experience. The University and its academic community have an opportunity to enact real progress by educating a new generation about the scientific, economic, governance, engineering, social, and ethical challenges posed by climate change.  

Topics Include: Sustainability Curriculum, Sustainability Research Institute, Campus Climate Lab 

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Strategic Plan

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) recommends that the University develop and incorporate the CAP into its Strategic Plan. The Strategic Planning Task Force was created in fall 2018 to gather information and compose a new Strategic Plan for Boston University. Throughout 2018 and 2019, 42 listening sessions were conducted with faculty, staff, and students.

Based on feedback from the community, the task force established strategic priorities for the University and key initiatives that embody those priorities. Sustainability, through curriculum and research, was identified as a key initiative to be incorporated into the Strategic Plan. 

How We Work

To increase visibility and aid implementation of the Climate Action Plan (CAP), BU Sustainability recently undertook a repositioning effort with the help of BU Marketing & Communications. As a result, we have a new name, new mission and vision statements, and a new website. We engaged stakeholders for help in defining our vision statement and used our new website to showcase the CAP, our data dashboards, a timeline of key events, and members of the BU community who provide inspiration to live sustainably.  

Topics Include: Our Vision, Our Mission  

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Collaborative Catalysts

BU Sustainability works across the University’s many schools, colleges, and departments to engage the community in climate action.  

Topics Include: School of Public Health Leadership, Resident Sustainability Leaders, Sustainability Ambassadors, Environmental Leadership Network, Sustainability Liaisons, Green Department Certification, Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant, Environmental Justice Series 


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Cross-Sector Collaboration

In partnership with higher education peers, government agencies, and corporate sustainability leaders, BU Sustainability collaborated on many initiatives throughout the year to advance climate action. We can leverage learning and speed up the adoption of innovation by sharing best practices. 

Topics Include: Transportation, Purchasing, Racial Equity and Social Justice, Greenhouse Gas Reductions 

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By the Numbers

We've made a lot of progress over the past year, and we've got the data to back it up. BU Sustainability maintains metrics to track how the University is progressing on goals in the Climate Action Plan. Check out our progress By the Numbers.

Topics Include: CO2 Emissions, Resource Use, Waste Generation, Green Buildings, Transportation, Sustainable Purchasing 

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