Over the last 15 years, Penn State has cut its carbon emissions by more than 35%, putting the University ahead of schedule to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas outputs to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Now, President Eric Barron has created the Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force to reconsider Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions goal with a view toward setting a more aggressive target as well as a revised timeframe.
“Climate change is one of the most significant challenges of our time, affecting every aspect of our lives — from the weather to our food systems, economy and health,” said Barron. “Penn State is a leader in creating comprehensive solutions to mitigate the dangers of climate change. Not only do we have some of the best and brightest scientists working on these problems, but we are also committed to implementing climate-smart practices right here on our own campuses.”
“While Penn State has made good progress toward lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, scientific consensus suggests that we need to move faster,” said task force co-chair Robert Cooper, senior director of energy and engineering in Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant. “This task force will provide new focus on determining what our reduction goals should be and how and when we aspire to meet them.”
According to Cooper, energy use is the largest driver of Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions, costing the University more than $30 million annually to provide heat, air conditioning, electricity and hot water to its buildings and fuel for its vehicle fleet. The University has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 35% since 2005 through strategies designed to use energy more efficiently, including installing equipment for combined heat and power, which produces heat and energy from a single power source; investing in building energy conservation projects; investing in renewable energy; and switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles, among other things.