Five Climate Action Task Force (CATF) workgroups were organized to oversee the process of drafting the UConn Climate Action Plan. By assigning a faculty member and a member of the university staff as co-chairs to each workgroup, the CATF hoped to incorporate novel approaches with practical implementation strategies for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Workgroups formed were:
- Energy Workgroup
- Environmental Literacy Workgroup
- Recycling & Waste Reduction Workgroup
- Sustainable Development Workgroup
- Transportation Workgroup
Workgroups met regularly between October 2008 and May 2009.
The final UConn Climate Action Plan was drafted and released in August 2009.
February 2009 Climate Change Teach-In and UConn Student Climate Action Summit. The University of Connecticut is hosting a Climate Change Teach-In as part of a nationwide awareness event again this year! During the first week of February 2009, faculty will commit to setting aside a class period for a lesson and/or discussion of climate change within the context of their discipline. As part of the week's activities, a student summit will also be held to educate students about the University's efforts and to solicit their input.
EcoMadness, an interdorm energy and water conservation contest, will occur during September and October. Since water use directly influences energy use, conservation of both important resources will result in greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The contest is the result of a steady expansion of a single residence hall area competition first launched during the fall of 2006. Today the contest spans the North, Northwest, Towers and Shippee Residence Halls. As part of the competition, EcoHusky volunteers handed out free CFL light bulbs and went door-to-door talking with students about how they can reduce their carbon footprint.
The EcoHusky Student Group organized a "GreenWeek" during November 2008 in order to raise campus environmental awareness. In order to complement the Climate Action Plan drafting process, each day was themed to match a particular CATF workgroup's initiatives.
On March 25, 2008, President Michael Hogan signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC) committing the university to establishing an action plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
As a follow-up to the PCC signing, President Hogan appointed an eight-member Climate Action Task Force (CATF) to oversee the PCC efforts including the development of a Climate Action Plan by 2010.
In November 2007, the Office of Environmental Policy and the town of Mansfield partnered to host a conference on climate change. The conference featured faculty experts and state and town officials who discussed the science and policy of climate change.
UConn students have also taken their concerns to Congress. Students from the EcoHusky student group and ConnPIRG joined over 5000 other youth in Washington D.C. during November 2007 for the Power Shift Conference, empowering youth to take action against climate change. Students attended three days of conferences and events that culminated with a trip to the United States Capitol Building to speak directly with legislators and rally in the Mall in front of the building.
In addition to these conferences, the Office of Environmental Policy and the Vice-Provost's office worked together to participate in the national Focus the Nation event in January 2008. At UConn, more than 3000 students, staff, faculty and community members participated. The event included two days of a global warming teach-in where classes from a variety of academic disciplines devoted at least part of their class to discussing climate change in the context of their discipline. Other events included a free showing of the movie, The 11th Hour, a Webcast of The 2% Solution, and a faculty panel discussion.
In the spring of 2008, the UConn Biofuel Consortium hosted a two day sustainable energy symposium that brought state and federal policy makers, businesses, and research groups together to discuss alternative energy.
Seeking to promote energy efficient and environmentally sensitive practices on campus, the UConn Foundation launched a Green Campus Fund in 2006 to support sustainable building enhancements for new construction and renovation projects at the University of Connecticut.
Made possible by the installation of utility sub-meters in dormitories and other buildings across campus, the OEP sponsored UConn's first-ever water & energy conservation contest at the South Residence Halls in 2006. The event raised awareness about the amount of water and energy being consumed in the dorms and created incentives to conserve. Real-time data from the sub-meters was available to students, allowing them to accurately track their progress.
In late-2006, UConn completed construction of the 165,000 sq. ft., $48 million Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center, which is the first LEED-certified athletic facilities in the NCAA. Energy conservation features incorporated into the Burton/Shenkman facilities include infrared radiant heating, heat recovery units, energy efficient lighting, occupancy sensors, window glazing, and use of locally-manufactured, recycled and renewable building materials.
Fleet fuel efficiency was examined and a "Preferred Vehicle Purchasing List" was issued early in 2006 to assist departments in purchasing vehicles with competitive fuel efficiency. A "No-idling" statement was endorsed and issued university-wide to reduce emissions from idling vehicles.
UConn's state-of-the-art Co-generation Facility opened in February 2006, replacing several oil-fired utility boilers and enabling the University to meet its own energy needs at the main campus. This facility simultaneously produces both electricity (nearly 25 MW capacity) and steam for centralized heating and cooling. By burning a cleaner natural gas, and with a net fuel efficiency greater than 80%, the Co-gen Facility reduces our reliance on off-site energy and cuts climate-changing CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons per year vs. fossil-fuel burning power plants on the regional grid.
Compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) giveaways have been co-sponsored by UConn and Connecticut Light & Power since Fall 2005. To-date, thousands of free CFLs have been distributed to incoming freshmen for use in their dorm room. By encouraging students to use the CFLs, which are five times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, the University is encouraging a reduction in residence hall energy use and, therefore results in both cost savings and greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2004, UConn demonstrated its commitment to green building when it became one of only a handful of universities nationwide to adopt its own Campus Sustainable Design Guidelines (SDGs). These SDGs apply to all construction and renovation projects including $1.3 billion worth of capital improvement projects that occurred prior to 2015.
The UConn Biofuels Consortium, an active team of students and faculty from multiple academic disciplines, was formed in 2004 and works together to optimize biofuel production. From a biodiesel lab in the Chemical Engineering department, members of this group also refine processes for converting waste cooking oil from University dining facilities into biodiesel fuel to be used in campus shuttle buses. Popular campus outreach events in 2004 and 2006 featured free french toast sticks and displays of alternatively-fueled vehicles (including a biodiesel bus). The consortium also serves as a regional educational resource for others attempting to begin similar programs by hosting workshops that address different issues surrounding the use of biofuels.
In late 2003, former university president, President Austin, signed the New England Governor's/Eastern Canadian Premier and New England Board of Higher Education's Climate Change Action Plan and Pledge. This marked the beginning of a long commitment to quantify and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from campus operations and activities. By signing the NEG/ECP pledge, the University committed to reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 with the long-term goal of sufficiently eliminating any dangerous threat to the climate. This translated into an anticipated emissions reduction of 75-80% below 2003 levels. The pledge also called for the establishment of a standardized GHG emissions inventory, promotion of public awareness of climate change issues, and the establishment of a GHG reduction and energy conservation plan.