The University of Tennessee recognizes the urgency of climate change and has taken several steps to reduce its environmental footprint and move towards climate neutrality.
In 2007, then-Chancellor Loren Crabtree signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), joining UT with other colleges and universities in a pledge to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations and to promote sustainability and climate change research and education.
As an ACUPCC signatory, UT must fulfill five requirements:
- Complete a GHG emissions inventory.
- Within two years, set a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral.
- Take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions.
- Integrate sustainability into the curriculum and make it part of the educational experience.
- Make the action plan, inventory, and progress reports publicly available.
UT has adopted several of the short-term GHG reduction actions included in the ACUPCC. The campus energy conservation policy enacted in 2008 specifies, among other things, that university purchases of equipment, systems, and appliances will be ENERGY STAR certified whenever possible. In addition, UT encourages use of public transit by providing a fare-free shuttle system on campus and in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. Lastly, UT participates with the national RecycleMania waste minimization competition each spring.
Since 2008, the Office of Sustainability has coordinated an annual GHG emissions inventory for the Knoxville campus. Completing the inventories helps the campus measure its progress toward meeting the emission reduction goals set forth in the UT Climate Action Plan (CAP), which was approved by Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek in January 2010. As of 2010, the university is already halfway to meeting its interim goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below the fiscal year 2008 level.