Enhancing Sustainability at the University of Rochester

There have been several recent developments in the world of sustainability at the University, from having a formal sustainability coordinator, to the University Council on Sustainability working towards setting a carbon reduction goal in alignment with a Student Association petition, and the enhancement of resources available to staff wishing to become involved to make a difference in their department. All of these efforts are steps towards a more sustainable future at the University.

The Student’s Association recently passed a resolution to establish carbon emissions reduction goals. This resolution supports the vision statement of the University Council on Sustainability—the University “aims to be a leader in promoting a sustainable society through our academic, education, research, patient care, and health programs, in the operation of our campuses and facilities, and in our interactions with the community.”

The resolution requires that carbon emissions reduction goals be set by January 2017 at the latest and recommends carbon emissions reduction goals of 2-3% per year and an overall competitive minimum of 35%. Last semester, the University Council on Sustainability agreed to develop a proposed carbon reduction goal that will be forwarded to University Administration within the requested time frame.  In order to set carbon emission reduction goals, an inventory of current greenhouse gas emissions is needed.

The University has already made significant progress in increasing energy efficiency across the campuses.  The completion of a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, followed by the establishment of a carbon-emissions reduction goal, provides a context for analyzing past improvements and setting priorities for future projects. The establishment of a formal carbon reduction goal will also increase the competitiveness of the University of Rochester against peer institutions that have also identified their carbon footprints and established carbon emission reduction goals.

Spearheading the greenhouse gas inventory is Sustainability Coordinator Amy Kadrie who is also a member of the University Council on Sustainability. Kadrie has been working at the University of Rochester for nearly eight years, previously under the title of “recycling coordinator”. This summer the decision was made to change Kadrie’s title to better reflect her evolving role related to sustainability as a whole, and not just recycling.

Under the direction of Kadrie, a Green Office Guide was created by Sustainability Intern Adil Nyambasha ’18 in order to assist University of Rochester staff and employees with meeting the carbon emission reduction goals. The guide is meant to help offices throughout the University become more responsible and sustainable in regards to resource consumption. There are multiple sections to the guide including energy, waste reduction and recycling, computing and printing, purchasing, kitchen and catering, transportation, and innovation and awareness. The guide can be easily accessed online by University employees and used as a guide to incorporate sustainable practices in different departments. Having a green guidance document and other programs aimed at driving behavior change, like the Green Reps program, is important to incorporate and promote sustainability at the departmental level within the University.

The Green Reps program was created by a working group of the University Council on Sustainability. Green Reps are employees from across the entire University of Rochester who act as ambassadors of sustainability in their department. Green Reps serve as advocates, liaisons, and teachers of sustainability. For more information about the Green Reps program or to sign up, visit www.rochester.edu/sustainability/greenreps/.

All of these efforts display the University’s advancement of its sustainability goals and the enrichment of its sustainable culture among students and staff alike. More developments in the Go Green campaign are expected to come as a result.


Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017

Image  from shutterstock.com