Guiding the Way Toward Climate Neutrality

Duke’s updated Climate Action Plan provides clear path forward to green future

View down Chapel Drive

With five years left until its deadline to become climate neutral, Duke University now has a clear roadmap on how it plans get there.

An updated Climate Action Plan was approved by the Campus Sustainability Committee at its April meeting and will be shared with the Duke University Board of Trustees later this month. The document explains how the University will expand its greenhouse gas reduction efforts, meet its 2024 carbon neutrality deadline and continue to be leader in emissions reduction.

“This is the realization of a lot of hard work by a many stakeholders across Duke working on implementing our campus greenhouse gas strategy over the last decade, but also working to expand it even further,” said Duke Sustainability Director Tavey Capps.

The updated Climate Action plan was created with input from the Campus Sustainability Committee – which is comprised of students, staff and faculty - and other stakeholders on campus, an Energy Needs Analysis developed by an external consultant, and research done by Duke University.

The release of the updated plan comes roughly eight months after a draft of the new plan was released in October. In between, there was a period of extensive public input as authors of the plan received around 50 pages of comments and worked toward responding to the concerns and suggestions voiced in each one.

“The public review process engaged over 350 members of the Duke and local community, helping us to refine and improve the plan,” Capps said of the input from the public.

Duke’s initial Climate Action Plan, written in 2009, was a result of former Duke President Richard H. Brodhead signing the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. A major piece of that plan was Duke’s ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral through emission reductions and carbon offsets by 2024.

Since then, Duke has made significant progress, cutting its overall emissions by 24 percent from the 2007 baseline despite having a campus that grew by roughly 3 million square feet.

But as shown in the updated plan, changes elsewhere have made it possible for Duke to do much more. Thanks to technological advances and regulatory changes, by 2024, Duke expects to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent from its 2007 baseline. That’s an increase from the 45 percent reductions Duke predicted it could make during that same span according to the 2009 plan.

Also included in the updated plans is a call to monitor, advocate for and pursue off-campus emission reduction strategies and high-quality offsets.

For more on Duke’s Climate Action Plan, including the updated document, visit: https://sustainability.duke.edu/metrics/climate