Green Initiatives

Brown Signs International Sustainable Campus Charter

Brown University in Providence, RI recently signed the Sustainable Campus Charter. The charter pushes universities to follow sustainable practices in development, construction, and operations campus-wide and to include sustainability in its teachings.

The charter, developed through the International Campus Sustainability Network, was signed by Brown President Ruth Simmons at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Currently, it has about two dozen higher ed signatories worldwide, including the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Copenhagen in Denmark; and Hosei University in Japan.

"Universities around the world are already confronting issues of sustainability, both in their laboratories and in their business operations," Simmons said. "The Sustainable Campus Charter will keep these issues in focus and enlarge the community of academic and civic leaders who are productively engaged in the important principles of conservation, sustainability and environmental health."

This isn't the first commitment the university has made to green practices. In January 2008 Simmons announced an aggressive plan for Brown to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings to 42 percent below 2007 levels by 2020. In the last two fiscal years, the institution has reduced its energy-related carbon footprint by nearly 19 percent, according to its latest Sustainability Progress Report.

The university's facilities management department replaced traditional light switches with motion-sensor lighting in several campus buildings and installed higher-efficiency burners. Brown cut its emissions further by reusing more of the heat returning from its hot water pipes and turning it into electricity at its cogeneration plant. The central plant provides hot water through seven miles of pipes on campus.

Brown has pledged to ensure that major renovations to existing buildings and all new construction will, at a minimum, meet a silver standard in the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program and that all building designs be at least 25 percent more energy efficient than required by state building energy codes.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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