UNF Climate Action Plan

Since its founding in 1972, the University of North Florida (UNF) has strived to protect the natural environment and has identified "responsibility to the natural environment" as one of its core values. In 2009, UNF completed its first look into climate related issues on campus by completing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory (GHGEI). In October 2010, President John A. Delaney signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which challenged the university to develop a climate action plan (CAP) to become carbon neutral.


The UNF Climate Action Plan, which was developed by the UNF Sustainability Committee, outlines how UNF will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by the year 2050. The plan defines UNF institutional capacities and current initiatives for which ongoing support is necessary for success. Additionally, the CAP outlines actions essential for building UNF's capacity to effectively prepare for, implement and track mitigation projects. These plans include improving data collection systems, cultivation of student, faculty and staff support, and securing financial resources. These efforts will be completed in three phases and includes infrastructural improvements, operational changes and a focus on sustainability education and research.


UNF Climate Action Plan





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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

In 2009 UNF's net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 74,229 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MT eCO2), or 18.9 MT per gross square foot, or 5.3 MT per student. Purchased electricity represents the single largest contribution to GHG emissions at 52%. The second highest single contributor is student commuting at 20%. Adding faculty/staff commuting (8%) to student commuting brings the contribution of commuting overall to 28%.


Several other smaller sources contribute to the overall emissions profile. Directly financed air travel comprises 6%, on-campus stationary sources and losses from the transmission and distribution of purchased electricity (T&D) each account for 5%. Solid waste and study abroad travel each make up 2%. Direct transportation from the vehicle fleet is quite small and rounds up to 1%. Emissions from paper are accounted for in the inventory but are low enough to comprise 0% on the scale of this chart.


GHG ResultsUNF Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source (GHGEI, 2009)

The UNF GHG emissions inventory reveals that purchased electricity and commuting provide the largest contributions to UNF's carbon footprint. These two items are often the top three contributors at many other campuses. These data will serve as the baseline toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions as an essential component of UNF's sustainability mission. Without a climate action plan and some mitigation efforts, projections indicate a steadily rising level of GHG emissions.


Click here for more information about the UNF's greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

Development of the Climate Action Plan

The development of UNF’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) started after President John Delaney signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in October of 2010. To make the task of achieving carbon neutrality more manageable, the CAP is broken down into three phases. An outline of the GHG reduction goals associated with each phase is provided in the table below. The phases are designed to complement each other, with the earlier phases building groundwork for the more ambitious projects in the later phases. Because each phase depends upon the completion of the previous phases, the timelines presented in this plan are subject to change with the progress of each phase.


CAP Phases

Phase I 2013-2020: Reduce 2009 GHG emissions by 40%

The first phase will focus on communication, outreach and education. The Sustainability Committee, and more specifically the communications subcommittee, will develop programs that will help inform the UNF community about climate change. They will provide information about GHG emissions at UNF, progress on reducing GHG emissions and ways that the UNF community can help. Greenhouse gas mitigation during the first phase will be a result of energy conservation as a result of increased education and community participation.


Examples of potential projects:

  • Implement a pre-consumer composting program to divert food waste from cafeteria.
  • Create an on/off schedule for building lighting and large computer stations.
  • Start an "eco-rep" program that will use peer-to-peer education to teach students about sustainable living on and off campus.
  • Develop a plan to incorporate sustainability into curriculum and expand sustainability education opportunities.
  • Improve outreach, advertiesment and education to increase awareness of existing sustainability programs.
  • Retro-commisioning the older buildings on campus to ensure that equipment and systems are functioning properly.
  • Organize faculty and staff workshops about sustainability.

Phase II 2020-2035: Reduce 2009 GHG emissions by 75%

While there will be a continued effort to build community participation during the second phase, more focus will be placed on making operational changes and infrastructural improvements. Due to the constant change in available technology and associated costs, it is hard to predict what projects will be feasible during the second phase; however, it is reasonable to assume that mitigation strategies that are currently not economically feasible, such as the extensive use of LED lighting and solar panels, may become feasible during this phase.


Examples of potential projects:

  • Move campus towards exclusive use of LED lighting.
  • Explore ways to begin using alternative sources of energy, such as solar power.
  • Phase out gas-powered vehicles and move towards an alternative fuel fleet.

Phase III 2035-2050: Reduce 2009 GHG emissions by 100%

Planning projects for the third phase is very challenging, because it is impossible to predict how successful the first two phases will be and thus what projects will need to be done in the final phase to achieve carbon neutrality. Furthermore, the campus infrastructure and the availability of funding will inevitably change making effective planning very challenging. However, projects that require large investments and/or offer a lower return on investment will be saved until the last phase.

Schedule of Revisions

As outlined in the ACUPCC agreement, there will be alternating yearly updates of UNF’s greenhouse gas emissions and Climate Action Plan. In addition, the Climate Action Plan will be revised and updated following the completion of each phase. UNF is currently on track to complete its second GHGEI in 2014 and will complete one every other year afterwards. The ACUPCC requires that universities submit progress reports on their CAP every other year. The first progress report will be due in 2015 and will be completed every other year afterwards. An outline of the schedule of updates and revisions is shown in the table below.


 CAP Updates