The Cavalier Daily
The University and the College of William & Mary shared progress, challenges and new initiatives for their joint 2030 Sustainability Plan in a webinar Wednesday afternoon. Sustainability Directors Andrea Trimble and Calandra Waters Lake — representing the University and William & Mary, respectively — explained the action plans they created and provided updates about the initiative’s progress so far.
Before winter 2019, the universities were separately working on climate action plans focused on achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Carbon neutrality — or net zero carbon emissions achieved by stopping emissions and removing carbon dioxide from the environment — became a popular goal in recent decades as environmental scientists have made renewable energy more efficient and thus more realistic as a primary source of energy.
These plans came about following an executive order from Governor Ralph Northam that set a goal for Virginia to achieve 100 percent carbon-free energy production by 2050. In the order, Northam urged Virginia’s higher education institutions to create plans that aligned with the 2050 carbon-free goal, prompting the creation of the climate action plans in the sustainability offices of both universities.
When the two universities realized the parallels between their work, including independently choosing 2030 as their target dates for becoming carbon-neutral, they decided to pool research and tools to help each other advance their sustainability efforts.
“With similar goals, challenges, research interests, and both being public institutions, U.Va. and William & Mary’s partnership makes a lot of sense,” Lake said.
Currently, the main partnership goal involves “operational aspects” of the 2030 carbon-neutrality goal, according to Trimble. This means working through plans to adjust campus operations like construction, heating and cooling, food and campus vehicles to be more sustainable.