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Princeton University Announces New Sustainability Initiatives

Princeton University is undertaking multiple initiatives to become more environmentally conscious.

On Monday, the university set 2046 as the deadline to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions and to implement various strategies that will engage all faculty, staff, and students in creating a sustainable campus and future.

The latest sustainability goals build upon the school’s first Sustainability Plan released in 2008, which was Princeton’s first formal commitment to reducing emissions, improving resource conservation, and advancing sustainability education, research, and campus engagement. The university is scheduled to achieve its goal of absolute campus carbon emissions reduction to 1990 levels by next year.

“The power of this Sustainability Action Plan, which aligns with the overall Campus Plan for 2026 and beyond, lies in the strength of strategies supporting these important targets,” Treby Williams, executive vice president, said.

“The plan also highlights where our paths to progress are less clear and where we will engage the ingenuity of our faculty, staff, students, and partners to surface promising approaches.”

Along with cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the university has also set a goal to reduce water wastage to 26 percent by 2046, to design efficient buildings, to work on alternative modes of transportation, and to adopt practices in sustainable dining, construction, and purchasing.

KyuJung Whang, vice president for facilities, said the plan resulted from consultations with faculty, staff and student groups, as well as sustainability leaders from outside of the university.

“It is through these types of thoughtful and deliberate strategies that we are going to accomplish our future sustainability goals,” Whang said.

Over the last decade, the university has seen a reduction in single-occupancy cars driving to campus, an eight percent decline in overall campus waste volume and a 23 percent recycling rate.

“It has been exciting to see how much progress can be made when we share this common objective, and how many ideas have come out of the sustainability-focused conversations leading up to the plan,” Katja Luxem, a graduate student in geosciences, said.

“I hope that the launch of the Sustainability Action Plan helps make sustainability a key priority for the university and a more widely acknowledged value in our community,” Luxem added.

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