Campus Culture & Operations
Reducing Barnard's Ecological Footprint
Our emissions are divided into Scopes 1, 2, and 3. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, including onsite fuel combustion from heating or cooling or from campus fleet vehicles. Scope 2 refers to all indirect emissions from purchased electricity. Scope 3 is made up of all other indirect emissions, including commutes, school sponsored air travel, trash disposal, and purchased goods. All our actions, individual and institutional, contribute to our collective footprint. Here's how we're tackling our shared emissions.
Our community encourages and engages with sustainability and climate action, both on campus and beyond. Campus initiatives on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, wellness, and other mission-driven values are integrated and mutually supported. Our goal is that by the time Barnard students graduate, they have engaged with sustainability and climate action through classes they take, events on campus, or internships and student groups they involve themselves in. Our annual Give & Go Green sale and Rebear Boutique promote circular economy solutions on campus. Programming such as Beyond Barnard’s “Dialogues for Change” and the Athena Center's "Athena Climate Challenge" help situate Barnard students as leaders in climate solutions.
Buildings & Energy
Barnard is developing a pathway to net-zero emissions that includes building retrofits and renewable energy strategies for Scope 1 and 2 emissions. The urgent need for this work is clear: In order to align with science-based emissions reductions targets, Barnard will need to decarbonize campus buildings and energy systems, starting now.
In the December 2019 Climate Action Vision, Barnard committed to defining a pathway to carbon neutrality. In 2020-21, the College began working with consulting partners to develop a Planning Roadmap to determine the required annual emissions reductions to achieve net zero, and to outline in broad strokes what it may take to get there operationally and financially. In spring of 2021, the College was awarded NYSERDA funding for the next phase of work which will include a step by step pathway detailing building retrofits and electrification, plus sources for renewable electricity.
Past actions include joining the NYC Carbon Challenge in 2009 and is proud to be one of the first NYC institutions to reach the initial goal of 30% emissions reductions from 2005 levels. In 2017, the College signed the “We Are Still In” pledge, underscoring our effort to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Progress to date includes offsetting 100% of purchased electricity with Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and energy efficiency projects including LED lighting conversions.
Consumption & Waste
In 2016, Barnard completed a comprehensive assessment of our greenhouse gas emissions with Gotham 360. This assessment concluded that Scope 3 made up the largest portion of Barnard's emissions (Scope 3 emissions include our trash, our commutes, our purchases, food, and travel. A circular approach, as part of our circular campus initiative, to consumption entails strategies at every point along the cycle — from procurement to reuse to waste management. Barnard currently averages a 24% diversion rate. This is on par for some peers but a long way from the 80% goal of New York’s Zero Waste by 2030 program.
In 2020, Barnard Facilities and the Office of Sustainability partnered to suspend desk-side bin service; studies have shown that diversion rates improve when people sort their own waste, and our hardworking facilities team can now devote attention to important maintenance and cleaning work. Barnard has single stream recycle which also includes organics collection in academic buildings and offices. We are currently piloting organics collection in the residence halls.
Our outdoor green spaces play a crucial role in the way our community convenes and in our impact on the local environment. With the introduction of the Milstein Center, we have more green roof spaces, which increases outdoor space to relax, as well as provides environmental benefits for the building.
Members of Barnard’s grounds team have been working with faculty and staff to develop a set of guiding principles for green spaces on campus; one key goal is to build on the success of the Arthur Ross Greenhouse and the three community gardens (two student, one faculty) and continue to expand opportunities for community participation and education. Additional goals include increasing biodiversity on campus and transitioning to all-electric grounds care.
As a first step, in 2021, Barnard hosted two planting days, for the Alicia Lawrence Memorial Garden and to celebrate Earth Day.