Our focus on creating sustainability literate individuals brings together our faculty and students to learn about local and global challenges. From the northern reaches of the Arctic and the coral reefs of the Caribbean to the shores of Cattaraugus Creek and Lake Erie, the university is working to create a better tomorrow through sustainability.
Students at UB have many opportunities through research, education and service to take a deeper dive on issues that are impacting our planet's environment. They are finding ways to supply affordable renewable energy to communities that need it the most. They are assessing our local food system to increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables while decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide released by transporting these goods from farther distances. They are partaking in on-campus activities like making football games zero-waste and reusing reclaimed materials from students moving out in the spring.
UB has pledged to become climate neutral by 2030. To achieve this goal, we brought together leaders from across the university to form the Environmental Stewardship Committee, a group of administrators, faculty and students charged with charting the university's path toward climate neutrality and sustainability. Check back and follow our progress.
Sustainability is more than just getting to carbon neutral. It is about creating strong, resilient communities that are economically stable. This means our students are working on and researching ways to eliminate gender inequality, increase access to healthy food, and advocate for individuals that will be impacted unequally by climate change.
Sustainability is about meeting today’s needs without sacrificing the needs of the next generation. Here at UB, sustainability is a culture of teaching that prepares our students for a changing world—one where solar panels proliferate in place of fossil fuels.
Sustainability requires solving our problems with a different way of thinking. It means making discoveries that positively change the way we live day to day and interact with the world. It means looking at our own carbon footprint and reducing that to zero.
Innovative measures we're taking on our campuses include opening the UB Solar Strand, bringing five new LEED-designed buildings online within a year, recycling waste through an innovative single-stream process, and composting what waste we don’t recycle.
To empower other people to make change, we share our best resources—our students and faculty—through service projects in Buffalo Niagara and beyond. Globally, UB students are working in places like the Louisiana Bayou, the Dominican Republic and Africa. For years, our faculty have partnered with the community to address legacy environmental issues and discover new solutions together.
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.
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.
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.
The plan calls for specific action in areas such as energy, transportation, information technology, materials use and human resources.
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.
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.
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.
As universities from around the world, we are committed to educating students who can successfully live and work in our globally connected world and change it for the better. We are also committed to discovering, producing, and sharing new solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. These missions require of universities an openness to—and engagement with—ideas, knowledge, and people from all parts of the world.
Knowledge and innovation is not bound by national borders. This has always been true, but the scope and complexity of today’s challenges make the necessity for global engagement even more critical.
These challenges have come into focus through the United Nations’ adoption of a new global development agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs comprise 17 transformative objectives concerning the most pressing economic, social, and environmental challenges facing the world today. The SDGs set interdependent development priorities that apply to low-, middle-, and high-income countries alike. The SDGs are globally shared objectives that can only be achieved through international cooperation and multi-stakeholder engagement.
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative aims to get institutions of higher education to commit to teach sustainable development concepts, encourage research on sustainable development issues, green their campuses, and support sustainability efforts in their communities
The idea behind the University Global Compact is to form a global platform of universities and other higher education organizations committed to working together and in partnership with the United Nations (through UNITAR), SDSN, and other relevant organizations, in support of the Sustainable Development Goals both locally and globally through our education, research and service missions.
In the fall of 2011, UB made a key strategic decision to create a university-wide approach to sustainability by integrating curriculum, operations, research and engagement efforts. The strategy known as CORE was based on the successful work across many of our peer AAU publics and perhaps best exemplified by the University of New Hampshire. During the past six years, the university has formed a comprehensive sustainability strategy that works to integrate the very core elements of the public research university including UB’s curriculum, operations, research and engagement.
The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They use carefully calibrated indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach and stewardship.