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Boston University Sustainability
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2021

"Vote for Divestment" Sign

BU Commits to Full Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Due to rapid acceleration of anthropogenic climate change, as well as continued pressure from DivestBU, the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) recommends completely phasing out investments in companies that extract oil and natural gas. The Board of Trustees votes in favor of adopting a plan to divest its endowment from remaining fossil fuel interests.

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2020

Sustainability Curriculum Workshop

BU Faculty Gather to Focus on Sustainability Curriculum

Faculty members Cutler Cleveland (Earth & Environment), Emily Ryan (Mechanical Engineering), and Neta Crawford (Political Science) convene a workshop to explore ways to incorporate energy, climate change, and sustainability into every student’s education. One such solution is the team projects within the BU Hub’s Cross-College Challenge, which present an additional opportunity for interdisciplinary groups of students to work on solutions to sustainability issues.

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Phoro of Wiley Hundertmark

Campus Climate Lab Launches

The Campus Climate Lab enables researchers to use BU's campuses as a living laboratory to advance sustainability practices, by funding student research projects and facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration among students, staff, and faculty.

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Climate Action Plan Forum

Anthony Janetos Climate Action Prize Established

Named in honor of the late Professor Tony Janetos, director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, the prize is awarded each spring to the Campus Climate Lab student or team whose project most substantially advances Climate Action Plan goals and helps shift the University toward more sustainable operations.

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Resident Sustainability Leader Program Comes to West Campus

Our vital peer educator program now covers more of BU's Charles River Campus. Resident Sustainability Leaders make a year-long commitment to promote sustainability in student housing and provide support to residents on sustainability subjects ranging from recycling to energy, water, waste, and more. Principally part of the BU Sustainability team, Resident Sustainability Leaders are also part of the Residence Life team and promote a positive and healthy environment where students can live, learn, and thrive.

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BU Wind

BU joins MassEVolves

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) recognizes BU as a participant in its MassEVolves Program, in support of the transition to zero-emission vehicles for operations, employees, and communities. The University has committed to transition its fleet to electric, with a pilot in FY2022.

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Windmiils

BU Wind Goes Live!

Boston University begins 15-year Power Purchase Agreement which involves buying 205,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually from wind farm developer, builder, and operator ENGIE North America. BU Wind is a clean energy project in South Dakota that the University enabled, fulfilling a key goal of the University’s Climate Action Plan (CAP).

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2019

Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant Program Newsletter

Boosting Innovation with New Sustainability Seed Grant

A collaboration between Sustainability and Innovate@BU, the Sustainability Innovation Seed Grant program provides students with the funds they need to turn their sustainability project ideas into reality.

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BU Convenes Zero Waste Task Force

The Climate Action Plan recommends that the University establish a Zero Waste goal (90% of our waste would be diverted away from landfills and incineration, including 90% of construction waste). To determine how best to achieve this goal, BU formed the Zero Waste Implementation Task Force and engaged with the campus community, including more than 400 online survey respondents and over 100 campus forum participants.

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Center for Computing & Data Sciences

Breaking Ground with the Center for Computing & Data Sciences

Construction officially begins on the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, a leading example for how buildings can be designed and built to operate without a carbon footprint. Energy-efficient design is a necessary first step. Then, fossil fuel–free energy will be provided using the thermal mass of the Earth as a source for heat exchange. This will enable the building's electricity to be matched by the energy from BU Wind and be carbon free. This forward-looking project will be Boston University’s most sustainable building yet and demonstrates our leadership on climate action.

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2018

BU Wind

BU Wind Project Unveiled

BU will buy the power from a South Dakota wind farm that will begin construction in the spring. It will then resell that power for use in the midwestern United States. By purchasing power outside New England, the University will earn legal credits (called renewable energy certificates) against its own carbon emissions in Boston.

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BU Joins Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council brings together buyers, suppliers, and public interest advocates to simplify and standardize sustainable purchasing efforts by large organizations, for the benefit of communities, economies, and environments all along local and global supply chains.

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2017

Climate Action Task Force Solicits Input from the Campus Community

The Climate Action Task Force conducts listening sessions and public forums on the Charles River and Medical Campuses.

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Trustees Approve Climate Action Plan

The Boston University Board of Trustees approve a Climate Action Plan that will dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions across BU's campuses and fund broad infrastructure improvements in preparation for flooding or heat surges in the coming decades. The plan’s centerpiece is the reduction of carbon emissions on the campuses to zero by 2040, a decade ahead of a similar effort by the city of Boston.

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2016

Earth House

Earth House Living-Learning Community Founded

The Earth House, a specialty community at BU for decades, in 2016 became a first-of-its-kind experiential Living-Learning Community, integrating credit-based coursework with residential living.

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Student holds sign urging for divestment at DIvestBU rally

ACSRI Proposes Creation of a Climate Action Plan

The Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) presents recommendations to enhance the University's sustainable initiatives. Recommendations include developing a Climate Action Plan and divesting from companies that continue to explore new fossil fuel reserves or that extract coal and tar sands.

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Climate Action Task Force Kick Off

The Climate Action Plan Task Force holds its first meeting and begins the difficult work of developing a plan to mitigate the effect of climate change on BU's campuses as well the impact of University operations on the environment at large.

2014

Nathan Phillips at DivestBU support rally

Faculty Petition in Support of Divestment

Together with the DivestBU student movement, 245 faculty members sign a petition urging the University’s trustees and the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) to divest fossil fuel interests from its endowment.

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2012

Board of Trustees Approves Formation of Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing

The committee's mandate is to represent all of the BU community (trustees, faculty, and students); offer expertise in socially responsible investing issues in order to be able to engage in informed, thoughtful, and collegial consideration and discussion; and maintain continuity and institutional memory on relevant policy issues. As such, they will advise the Board of Trustees on socially responsible investing and coordinate and facilitate communication related to policy issues.

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BU Installs Its First Green Roof at 100 Bay State Road

Spanning nearly 6,000 square feet, the roof at the Yawkey Center for Student Services is designed to become a lush bed of vegetation, helping to decrease the building’s carbon footprint. Green roofs reduce the heat island effect created by black roofs, improve insulation—lowering heating and cooling bills—and increase rainwater retention, which captures runoff that can overwhelm sewer systems.

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Students hold posters in support of Divestment at DivestBU Rally

DivestBU Formed

Students organize to encourage the University to divest from fossil fuel interests. DivestBU goes on to engage students in petitions, rallies, and formal proposals to the administration.

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2011

First BU Residence Earns LEED Certification

The apartment complex at 85–87 St. Mary’s St. is the first BU residence to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a program created and administered by the US Green Building Council. The residential complex—a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments comprising nine units total— was stripped to the rafters, studs, and floorboards, and methodically rebuilt.

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2010

BU Celebrates with Inaugural Sustainability Festival

The event to promote eco-friendly lifestyles and environmental education features vendors, student environmental clubs, and BU departments and offices. Hosted by BU Sustainability, the festival includes educational games, sustainability swag, information booths, and of course, plenty of free food.

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2009

Sustainability Festival BUMC

A New Day: BU Sustainability (Originally Known as sustainability@BU) Is Born

University leaders hire BU’s first director of sustainability, Dennis Carlberg, an architect and a former senior designer and project manager. Carlberg oversees the BU Sustainability Committee made up of faculty members, staff, and students. The committee works to reduce energy consumption and waste across campus by concentrating on four crucial areas: recycling and waste management; energy efficiency; sustainable building development and operations; and communications, education, and outreach.

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Makechnie Study Center

Sargent's Makechnie Study Center First LEED-Certified Project on Charles River Campus

The upgraded center features new computers and printers surrounded by glass-walled group study rooms, a conference room, and a digital editing suite, all flooded with natural light. The space became the first on the Charles River Campus to earn LEED certification for environmentally friendly building from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

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Support BU Sustainability

BU Holds First Earth Day Festival

Designed to celebrate our planet and focus on how members of the BU community can have a positive impact on the environment, BU's Earth Day Festival brings together local businesses, nonprofits, various BU departments, student organizations, and more to take part in interactive and fun activities promoting sustainability.

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Sustainability Liaison

Sustainability Liaisons Founded

The program was created to promote campus sustainability through peer-to-peer awareness within each of the schools and colleges as well as many administrative departments on our campuses. The liaisons are comprised of faculty, staff, and graduate students.

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2008

President Robert A. Brown Announces New University-Wide Sustainability Office

President Brown announced the formation of a new group that will adminster the University's sustainability program. The program is broad in scope and aims to reduce the University’s environmental footprint by affecting change on campus and integrating sustainability into existing programs in education, research, and operations.

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