Earth Day 2019 Newsletter: In the Service of the Earth

Written by
Maura M. Fennessy
April 22, 2019

Today, Earth Day 2019, Princeton University has released the new Sustainability Action Plan: Toward 2026 and Beyond. The purpose of the plan is to celebrate, spark and spread an ethos of sustainability throughout the University community as well as within the larger context of researchers, industry, policymakers and individuals around the world, all of whom have a part to play in addressing the climate change challenge.

Upon release of the plan, President Christopher L. Eisgruber said, "Our global environment faces challenges of unprecedented scope and complexity. Princeton can play a leadership role not only by developing innovative solutions through teaching and research, but also by establishing best practices in our campus operations and community behaviors that serve as models for the world. This plan sets out ambitious but attainable goals that will guide us toward a more sustainable future."

This issue of @princeton.edu features the efforts by University faculty, students and staff – in the laboratory and on the ground – to reduce the carbon footprint of the University and the world at large. 

 

Princeton University's Sustainability Action Plan

Logo for Sustainability Action Plan - Princeton shield with leaves
Princeton University sustainability plan aims for net zero emissions

 

Princeton University’s new Sustainability Action Plan sets bold targets to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and outlines innovative strategies to engage all faculty, staff and students in creating a sustainable campus and future. Princeton will aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2046, which is the University’s 300th anniversary.

 

The plan builds on the University’s significant progress during the last 10 years in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, designing efficient buildings, encouraging alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, and adopting award-winning practices in sustainable dining, construction and other University operations. Learn more.

 

Campus as a Climate Science Lab

Princeton Univeristy's S.C.R.A.P. Lab biodigester pictured with students, staff and faculty
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY’S NEW BIODIGESTER MAKES FOOD SCRAPS SUSTAINABLE

Under a white tent along the edge of campus hums Princeton University’s latest sustainable innovation - a new biodigester that turns food waste into nutrient-rich compost. Since operations began in fall 2018, more than 16 tons of food scraps from Campus Dining have been converted into compost for University lawns.  Learn more.

 

 

 

Student eco-rep staffing the waste areas at Jadwin Gym for Tiger Sustainability Night
SUSTAINABILITY WINS OFF THE COURT WHILE TIGERS WIN ON IT

During most sporting events, food waste in Jadwin Gymnasium goes straight to landfills and recycling can become contaminated. However, on Tiger Sustainability Night, student EcoReps staffed waste stations to ensure that all waste items were disposed of properly. The EcoReps helped teach fans about what waste items could be recycled or composted and which ones could only go to landfills.  Learn more.

 

 

Want to see these and other sustainability initiatives for yourself? Take a virtual Campus Sustainability tour or contact us for more information.

Climate Research

Claire White and Lars Hedin, 2019 recipients of Princeton E-ffilliates Partnership Funds
PRINCETON E-FFILLIATES PARTNERSHIP FUNDS RESEARCH ON CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership will support two projects this year, both focused on optimizing the capture and storage of carbon, which would otherwise contribute to climate change as atmospheric carbon dioxide. One proposal aims to slash the energy intensity and cost of carbon capture from industrial emissions. The other seeks to identify the ideal managed landscapes to increase carbon storage in soils. Learn more.

 

 

Researcher Paul Gauthier wearing purple gloves and growing basil in vertical farm project
PEI URBAN CHALLENGE AWARDS $509,000 TO NEW URBAN SUSTAINABILITY PROJECTS

Vertical farms in post-industrial America, origami-based noise-pollution barriers and cement made from burned waste make up the latest round of projects funded by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) Urban Grand Challenges program. Learn more.

 

 

 

Stock image of large white windmills
ENERGY TECHNOLOGY DISTILLATE: WIND POWER

Now released is Wind Power, the fifth Energy Technology Distillate from the Andlinger Center. The Energy Technology Distillate series addresses the technology and policy around low-carbon energy options.This latest distillate discusses four critical themes of wind power technology and the wind power industry: maturity; innovation; the offshore frontier; and variability, uncertainty and grid operation. Learn more.

 

 

Stock image of sewerage treatment plant
SEWER PLANTS COULD HELP CLEAN THE ATMOSPHERE

Researchers at Princeton have concluded that sewer plants serving municipalities worldwide offer a major option for capturing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Although cautioning that research and development is needed before the systems could be deployed, the team identified several potentially viable paths to using sewage as a carbon sink — that is, sewer plants could clean the atmosphere as they clean water.  Learn more.

 

 

Photograph of Elke Weber
PRIDE TOPS GUILT AS A MOTIVATOR FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DECISIONS

A lot of pro-environmental messages suggest that people will feel guilty if they don’t make an effort to live more sustainably or takes steps to ameliorate climate change. But a recent study from Princeton University finds that highlighting the pride people will feel if they take such actions may be a better way to change environmental behaviors.  Learn more.

 

 

Princeton women “roar” about climate change

“She Roars” is a podcast series created to celebrate women at Princeton.Two recent editions feature conversations with leaders in the fight against climate change.

Photograph of Kathleen Biggins recording She Roars podcast
KATHLEEN BIGGINS ON TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE – ONE CONVERSATION AT A TIME

Princeton resident Kathleen Biggins is an accidental activist. In the latest episode of the University’s “She Roars” podcast, Kathleen says she first grew concerned about climate change some 13 years ago while attending a national conference for garden clubs. Speakers at the conference included people from the worlds of business and the military — “not your normal suspects” — who shared scientific projections about global warming. Learn more.

 

 

Photograph of Lynn Loo
THE URGENCY OF CLIMATE CHANGE, WITH LYNN LOO, DIRECTOR OF ANDLINGER CENTER FOR ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

Engineering professor Lynn Loo, director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, says the dangers of climate change are so pressing that it’s time for all hands on deck to decarbonize the U.S. and global economies. She praises the issue awareness behind legislation introduced in Congress to implement a “Green New Deal,” but stresses that solar and wind technologies, by themselves, are not yet sufficient to fuel the nation. Learn more.

 

Read the response of Lynn Loo and Christopher Greig, with the Andlinger Center, to the “Green New Deal” resolution, the goal for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and its implications for climate progress.

 

On the Trail

Princeton University staff volunteering with Friends of Princeton Open Space

Armed with pruners, loppers and hand saws, members of Princeton’s Communications, Community and Regional Affairs and Public Affairs’ team volunteered to remove invasive species and plant native trees and shrubs at Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve along with Friends of Princeton Open Space.