Emory is committed to meeting the growing challenges of the global climate crisis through education of current and future generations and using the latest scientific evidence to implement climate solutions on campus.
Emory supports the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and has revised Emory’s Sustainability Vision based on the latest science. According to the United Nations IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F), global net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions would need to fall by ~50% from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
- In 2020, Emory signed a transformative solar power agreement with Cherry Street Energy. In doing so, Emory pledged to install more than 15,000 solar panels across 16 buildings on its Druid Hills campus, which will generate approximately 10 percent of Emory’s peak energy requirements and reduce Emory’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 4,300 metric tons.
- In 2014, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) approved Emory as an accredited, official observer to the UN climate talks. Since then, Emory has sent over 50 students and faculty to the UNFCC Conference of the Parties. Read the perspectives some of the students in the 2021 virtual delegation and “Climate and Society” course taught by Dr. Eri Saikawa.
- The construction of the Emory University Hospital Tower, opened in 2017, followed Clean Construction Guidelines that ensure construction equipment utilized the best available technology to reduce emissions.
Emory’s goal is to reduce total GHG emissions 50% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, from a 2010 baseline. Our inventory includes direct emissions from Emory owned or controlled sources (scope 1), indirect emissions from purchased off-site electricity (scope 2), and all other indirect emissions (scope 3). Emissions are measured from University and Healthcare buildings on the Druid Hills campus.
- On October 13, 2021, President Gregory L. Fenves joined Race to Zero, a coalition of educational institutions devoted to achieving zero carbon emissions. He also signed the Second Nature Climate Leadership Network presidents’ climate leadership commitment, joining 450 other institutions that have agreed to take actionable and trackable steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Two year later, Emory releases its 2023 Climate Action Plan as the next step in honoring those commitments.
- In spring 2023, Emory partnered with Second Nature and The Nature Conservancy to host a Community Resilience Building Workshop, a participatory workshop that brought together campus and community stakeholders to assess resilience strengths, vulnerabilities, challenges, and priorities for the university. The Resilience Summary of Findings Report can be found here. This workshop and report are important steps for Emory achieving its climate and resilience commitments through Second Nature’s Climate Commitment.
- In 2023, Emory University School of Medicine (SOM) received the top score for the Planetary Health Report Card 2022-2023.
- Emory conducts regular Greenhouse Gas emissions inventories to track its progress and has reduced its emissions by 39.14% from a 2010 baseline. The latest inventory (FY22) can be viewed here.
- In 2021, Emory joined the Race to Zero and Climate Leadership Network in response to advocacy by the student-led Emory Climate Coalition. By joining these networks of higher education institutions, Emory signals its recognition of climate change as an emergency and commitment to leadership in tackling the crisis.
- Emory has recorded a 26.5% per square foot (EUI) decrease in energy consumption from FY2005 through FY2015 and a further 16.7% decrease from FY2015 through FY2020. Emory continues to reduce energy consumption on campus through energy efficiency efforts and is on track to grow solar power on main campus by more than 5.5MW by the end of 2022.
- In response to Project Drawdown’s refrigerant management solution, ranked 1st on the list of 100 solutions to reverse global warming, a number of labs on campus participate in Lab Freezer and Refrigerator Challenges that encourage best practices and management strategies to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Emory is committed to reducing our Scope 2 GHG emissions through weekend, evening, and holiday building shutdowns; a temperature control policy; and a minimum LEED Silver requirement for all new construction to ensure efficient building operation at all times.
- In 2019, a system of geothermal wells was dug into McDonough Field, providing around 700 tons of heating and cooling capacity to the LEED Platinum Emory Student Center.
- Sustainable commuting options allow approximately 41 percent of Emory’s employees to utilize low-carbon forms of transportation. A No Idling policy for delivery vehicles and consolidation of supply orders further decreases transportation emissions.
- Emory composts pre-consumer food waste, which enhances carbon sequestration in soils and reduces methane emissions from food waste in landfills.
- Emory continues to invest in renewable energy on campus through utilization of solar photovoltaic power, a cogeneration steam plant, B5 biofuel in the Cliff Shuttles, and geothermal technologies.
- Emory University does not currently hold direct stock or bonds in public companies producing fossil fuels. Emory performs quarterly negative screenings of its investment portfolio and holds several investments in businesses with exemplary sustainability performance.
Our plans for the next decade emphasize reducing our impact on the climate and improving air quality for our communities. Emory commits to:
- In alignment with the IPCC, reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050, using a 2010 baseline.
- Working to meet Emory’s commitments to the Race to Zero Campaign and to the Climate Leadership Network.
- Supporting the City of Atlanta’s plan to transition to 100% clean energy by 2035
- Continuing to reduce emissions from purchased electricity (scope 2) through continuing measures such as renewable onsite electricity generation, behavior change for energy use reduction, and advocating for changes in Georgia’s energy grid to include more renewable energy
- Investing in a portfolio of innovative projects that provide resilience, research, teaching, and national leadership benefits to Emory by 2025.
- Achieving carbon neutral construction for all new buildings by 2025.
- Establishing a Carbon Neutral Degree within an academic unit to create the opportunity to offset the environmental impacts of a degree.
- Developing a carbon offset program to allow students, faculty and staff to offset university travel, commuting, and other activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Enhancing purchasing incentives and restrictions to increase sustainable refrigerant use and disposal.