(EnvironmentAmerica)– Massachusetts’ largest university took a big step towards leading the country on climate action by committing to purchase 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by end of 2018.
On Thursday, the Boston University Board of Trustees voted to pass the BU Bold Climate Action Plan, which would, among other things, commit the university to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2018 and net zero carbon emissions by 2040, quickly scale up energy efficiency and electrification of buildings to transition to renewable energy, and improve the campus’ resilience to climate change.
“Colleges and universities across the country are situated to lead the charge to a 100 percent renewable energy future”, said Jake Taber, Clean Energy Associate with Environment America. “Boston University has placed itself at the front of the pack with a bold commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity”.
The overwhelming vote of support from the Board of Trustees echoes the broad based support from the campus community. DivestBU, with the help of Environment America, organized 155 faculty at Boston University to voice their support in a letter to President Brown. 45 student groups representing nearly 7,000 students also voiced their support in a letter to the Board of Trustees, urging at adoption of the strongest Climate Action Plan.
Ahead of the Board of Trustee vote, the Faculty Council voted nearly unanimously in support of a resolution calling on the University to adopt the BU Bold Climate Action Plan. Boston University’s Student Government Association voted in support of a similar resolution as well.
“As a member of the BU community I couldn’t be more proud and happy about the decision of the Trustees to approve a bold Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the University”, said Professor Jennifer Luebke, professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and member of the DivestBU Faculty.
“This ambitious CAP, developed through more than a year of intensive work by the CAP Taskforce comprised of students, faculty and staff at BU, will enable BU to take a leadership role in local and regional efforts to mitigate, and respond to, climate change in a truly meaningful way. Everyone affiliated with BU can be excited and motivated to be a part of this great effort, which will make BU a role model for other institutions throughout the city and state!”
The BU Bold Climate Action Plan was finalized this September by Boston University’s Climate Action Task Force, made up of student, faculty and staff and assembled by Boston University’s President Brown last fall.
Over the past year, the task force has held multiple community forums on the plan and solicited dozens of online comments. Last month, Environment America hosted a roundtable discussion with Professor Michael Gevelber and Ben Thompson, members of the Climate Action Task Force, as well as Professor Ed Lochler, a DivestBU Faculty member, on the importance of passing BU Bold as an example that Boston and Massachusetts can follow.
The commitment by one of the state’s most prominent research universities paves the way for climate action at the state and local level.
“Boston University’s commitment shows that 100 percent renewable energy is increasingly within reach for Massachusetts,” said Ben Hellerstein, Environment Massachusetts State Director. “We hope that BU’s renewable energy commitment will inspire Massachusetts’ leaders to make a statewide, economy-wide commitment to 100 percent renewable energy.”
In January, Massachusetts state legislators introduced the 100% Renewable Energy Act, which would source 100% of Massachusetts’ electricity from renewable resources by 2035, and repower heating and transportation with renewable energy by 2050. So far, 56 legislators have signed on in support of the bill.
“One source of renewable energy that Boston University could tap into is Massachusetts’ offshore wind resources,” said Taber. “The state has the potential to power itself 11 times over with offshore wind, and we expect to see the first turbines spinning off our shores in the next few years.”
Environment America and the Student PIRGs are working at 50 campuses across the country to win commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. This fall, Environment America released a set of fact sheets explaining how campuses can go 100 percent renewable.
Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, is set to become the first residential college in the United States powered with 100 percent solar electricity from on-campus solar installations.