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Syracuse University, Student Association Announce Aggressive New Sustainability Goals, Expedited Net-Zero Emissions Plan
Syracuse University and the Student Association have announced a new set of goals that will substantially enhance and propel the University’s sustainability efforts, including reaching net-zero emissions by 2032, eight years earlier than the previous goal.
The goals are part of the University’s long-term sustainability plans and align with several recommendations made in a report by the Student Association released in December 2022. The report was developed after Chancellor Kent Syverud charged Student Association President David Bruen ’23 in late spring 2022 with making recommendations about the University’s sustainability practices and policies.
Highlights of the new goals include the following:
- Advance the University’s current net-zero goal from 2040 to 2032. To support this goal, the University will create a Sustainability Oversight Council to oversee and audit the Sustainability Management office to ensure emission goals are met.
- Commit to dramatically reduce single-use plastics by the 2027-28 academic year through a phased approach.
- In a collaboration between the Student Association and the University, create an annual sustainability research competition, as proposed in the Student Association’s sustainability report.
“These ambitious new goals set a high standard for where the University needs to be in terms of our climate action plan. We are committed to creating a more sustainable campus,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “I am grateful to David and all the students who worked on the report. Their leadership, insights and efforts, in partnership with Chief Facilities Officer Pete Sala and his team, will help the University in achieving our sustainability goals.”
Last year, the University released its 2022 Climate Action Plan, which documents progress and outlines strategies over the next five years for the University to edge closer to emissions neutrality.
In its report, the Student Association, which also worked with students from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Le Moyne College on the project, called on the University to “amplify and expedite sustainability and climate pledge efforts in response to current events, technological advancements and government incentives.” A student leader team of Student Association Sustainability Director Harrison Vogt, Vice President of Community and Government Affairs Ben Cavarra and Student Advocate Liv Curreri, led by Bruen, oversaw the development of the report.
“As members of the University community, and as part of the greater community, students play a role in helping to move forward ideas and promoting decisive action in creating a more sustainable future,” says Bruen. “With the University’s commitment and collaboration of our students, these goals are not only achievable but will be realized by all of us and make Syracuse University a national leader in sustainability.”
In helping to oversee the net-zero goal through Sustainability Management, the Sustainability Oversight Council will be composed of a representative from the Student Association, a representative from the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor and a faculty member with an expertise in sustainability.
As part of the Student Association recommendation for the creation of an annual sustainability research competition, students will have the opportunity to propose ideas in which the University can minimize carbon emissions. Students will submit proposals, which will be reviewed by a select panel of judges consisting of student leaders, faculty and staff. The winner of the competition will receive a prize.
In addition to the competition, faculty will also be able to submit their own proposals, to be reviewed by the panel of judges and University leadership, which will determine implementation at the University.
These advancements toward a more sustainable future will make Syracuse University a national higher education leader in sustainability.