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.
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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.
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
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.
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:
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
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.
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
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