Notre Dame adopts carbon, waste reduction goals

Author: Rachel Novick


Notre Dame has adopted a campus-wide Sustainability Strategy that sets ambitious goals for carbon and waste reduction over the next two decades. The highlight of the strategy is a goal of reducing the University’s carbon footprint by 50% per square foot by 2030.

“We are looking forward to using this strategy as a tool to help us institutionalize a culture of sustainability here on campus,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins C.S.C., President of Notre Dame. “Sustainability is integral to our mission as a Catholic university devoted to serving a world in need.” Pope Benedict XVI has frequently stressed the necessity of environmental stewardship for the cultivation of peace and human dignity, and has observed that “preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family.”

The strategy also outlines goals to divert 67% of campus waste from landfills by 2030, improve water efficiency, and expand sustainability education and outreach both on campus and beyond.

“We have made a great start: our carbon emissions per square foot have already declined 15% since our 2006-2007 baseline year. During that time, we have invested over $10 million in energy efficiency, and we continue to invest in energy and water efficiency technology as well as recycling infrastructure,” said John Affleck-Graves, Executive Vice President. “But in order to achieve the goals we have now set for ourselves, we need the entire campus community to rise to the challenge."

Over the last several years, Notre Dame faculty, staff, and students have become increasingly engaged in campus sustainability initiatives. “Over 100 classes focusing on sustainability issues are taught each year,” said Heather Christophersen, Director of Sustainability and lead author of the strategy. “Dozens of students have signed up for the new minors being offered in Sustainability and in Energy Studies. The new Green Ambassadors program for staff is quickly developing a campus presence with regular brown bag lunches on practical sustainability topics.”

The University’s $2 million Green Loan Fund, a key component of the campus sustainability program, is used on an ongoing basis to fund projects as varied as high-efficiency data servers, environmentally friendly laundry equipment, real time electricity metering in the residence halls, and the ever-popular annual CFL light bulb exchange.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Fr. Jenkins, Dr. Affleck-Graves, the Office of Sustainability, and the many, many students who have worked to make this commitment possible,” said Patrick McCormick ‘12, Student Body President. “Students stand ready to partner with administrators in the effort to integrate sustainability ever more deeply into the life of our university—an effort born from the conviction that a commitment to the environment is inseparable from a commitment to the fundamental dignity of the human person.”