Governance

UB students ask questions about the Climate Action Plan at a forum on climate neutrality.

The sustainability efforts at UB are guided by a collection of plans and assessment systems. The Climate Action Plan is our pathway towards climate neutrality. The Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) helps us to monitor our progress every two years. And finally, the American Colleges and Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment holds us to attaining our 2030 goal. 

In 2015, countries around the world adopted a set of goals that would help end poverty, mitigate climate changes, and promote economic growth and prosperity for everyone as part of a sustainable development agenda. These seventeen goals have specific targets to meet over the next fifteen years. 

The University at Buffalo uses these comprehensive goals as a framework for how we look at sustainability on campus. Sustainability is more than just responsible consumption and production, or affordable and clean energy. It's the synergistic impact of all of these goals that leads to resilient communities. 

Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System

The Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

STARS was developed by our higher education colleagues and is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Through a course, UB student researchers assist in gathering information from across the university to inform the STARS process and establish the State of UB’s Sustainability.

Faculty and staff involved in the process are being engaged throughout the year to ensure clear communication of our efforts.

The STARS report will indicate a number of our strengths, but also areas where we can improve and continue to reduce our environmental footprint on the future.

 

Climate Action Plan

The Environmental Stewardship Committee created a climate action plan that defines a path toward climate neutrality for the university.

The plan calls for specific action in areas such as energy, transportation, information technology, materials use and human resources.

The Climate Action Plan guides the work of the Environmental Stewardship Committee in creating one-, three- and five-year plans of action and an overall business case for carbon neutrality at UB.

UB is the size of a small city, with hundreds of buildings and miles of road. We use electricity, fuel and countless other resources to keep our campuses running. Thousands of students, faculty and staff travel here every day.

Our environmental footprint is significant.

But crucially, as an early signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, UB and locally based Ecology and Environment has developed a comprehensive strategic plan to minimize our adverse impact on the environment.

Our Climate Action Plan calls for UB to become climate neutral by 2030.

Second Nature is committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. They do this by mobilizing a diverse array of higher education institutions to act on bold climate commitments, to scale campus climate initiatives, and to create innovative climate solutions. They align, amplify, and bridge the sector’s efforts with other global leaders to advance urgent climate priorities. As a signatory, UB has used their carbon reporting platform to track progress is becoming carbon neutral. 

American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment

The American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment calls upon its signatories to become climate neutral by an established date. In early 2007, former UB President John B. Simpson signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), adding UB to the list of now more than 670 institutions of higher education nationwide leading society’s response to global climate change.

New York State Executive Order 166

On June 2nd, 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted Executive Order (EO) 166. This states that New York will continue to strive to meet the goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by forty percent by 2030 and eighty percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. 

Responsible Investment Committee

History

The Responsible Investment Committee was formed in 2013 as an advisory body to the University at Buffalo Foundation. It is tasked by the Vice President for Finance and Administration to make recommendations to the Investments committee of the Foundation in making socially and environmentally responsible investments while continuing to bring in revenue for the University. 

Progress

As of November 2017, the Responsible Investment Committee has made the following recommendations to the University at Buffalo Foundation: 

The University at Buffalo’s Responsible Investment Committee—appointed by University senior leaders and comprised of faculty, students and professional staff—respectfully recommends that the University at Buffalo Foundation Investment Committee direct the UBF Executive Director and investment manager of Mercer to:

1)    Publicly disclose (on its website and or by other means) that it does not directly invest in fossil fuel companies & explain, for context, the general make-up (of general portfolio of investments) of UBF’s investments (e.g. no individual stock picking)

2)    Pledge that the Foundation will not make any future direct investment in fossil fuel companies, partnerships and or joint ventures

3)    Conduct a sustainability analysis on the entire corpus of the UBF endowment/portfolio through Mercer’s sustainability filter and disclose those findings to the UB Responsible Investment Committee by February 15, 2018

4)    Continue working with the UB Responsible Investment Committee to advance best practice responsible investing under the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, Rating System (STARS), which includes but is not limited to:

·         Positive sustainability investment which includes direct investment in sustainable industries, sustainability investment funds, socially responsible mutual funds with positive screens, etc.

·         Investor engagement including negative screens, shareholder resolutions, proxy voting, etc.

·         Increasing investment transparency

The Responsible Investment Committee appreciates the efforts of the volunteer board of trustees at the Foundation and that this issue is complex and may take time.

 

Membership

Martha Bohm, Assistant Professor, Architecture and Planning

Colleen Culleton, Associate Professor, Romance Lanugages and Literatures

Trina Hamilton, Associate Professor, Geography

Ryan McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer

Errol Meidinger, Director the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy

Derek Nichols, Sustainability Engagement Coordinator

Aidan Powell, UB Student

Ed Schneider, Executive Director, UB Foundation

Nicole Stephans, UB Student

Debabrata Talukdar, Professor, School of Management 

Cristian-Ioan Tiu, Associate Professor, School of Management