University System Schools Join National Pursuit of Climate Neutrality

June 18th, 2007 by Adam

While the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) institutions have a long history of pursuing efforts to be more energy conscious and efficient, the four USNH presidents took a major step toward climate neutrality by recently signing the national “American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.” New Hampshire is one of the first states nationally to have all of its university system presidents support this effort. Nationally, nearly 300 presidents have signed the commitment, which calls for all institutions to create a comprehensive action plan for becoming neutral, including specific goals and timelines.

Within two months of signing the commitment, institutions must create internal structures to guide the development of an overall plan, and within one year they must complete an inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions. Within two years, institutions must have a plan in place that includes a target date for achieving climate neutrality, targets and goals that will lead to climate neutrality, actions to include these issues as part of the curriculum or educational experience for students, and mechanisms for tracking progress on these efforts. Some of the specific efforts that are recommended as ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are already in place at USNH institutions.

Plymouth State University announced last month that they are one of the first institutions of higher learning nationwide to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold Certification for a residence hall, Langdon Woods. Keene State College began a campus emissions inventory in 2005 and since 1996 has had the President’s Council for a Sustainable Future in place to advance sustainability initiatives. The University of New Hampshire has a novel greenhouse gas emissions inventory tool that has been adopted by more that 200 colleges and universities across the United States, and has a comprehensive Climate Education Initiative that brings practices into the classrooms and laboratories on campus. Granite State College is forming an Environmental Advisory Committee that will look at integrating sustainable practices through the college and academic curriculum.

“Our presidents, faculty, staff, and students have demonstrated their commitment to a cleaner environment in the classrooms, in the field, and across the campuses for decades, often in groundbreaking ways. By becoming one of the first state systems of higher education to sign this commitment, we are demonstrating our strong interest in making this an even higher institutional priority,” said USNH Chancellor Stephen Reno.

Additional efforts in place or under development on USNH campuses include the use of electric vehicles across campuses and by presidents, efforts to utilize biodeisel on a larger scale as an alternative fuel, and a project that could bring landfill methane gas to help fulfill significant energy needs at UNH. The full text of the Presidents Climate Commitment can be found at

For more information about this release, USNH contact Matthew Cookson, 603-862-0904 or 603-767-1247
PSU Contact: Christopher Williams, 603-535-2476 or 603-254-6946