Ohio State joins international coalition to accelerate local climate action

Members have pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints

By: Gina Langen

Published on February 06, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University today joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, an alliance of 13 leading North American research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

In launching UC3, an initial group of universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states. All UC3 members have pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral.

In 2015, Ohio State established strategic sustainability goals to guide the university into the future in its core areas of collaborative teaching, pioneering research, comprehensive outreach and innovative operations. Specific to Ohio State’s carbon footprint is a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and another to reduce total campus building energy consumption by 25 percent by 2025.

“Ohio State is deeply committed to reducing our carbon footprint and promoting energy efficiency,” said President Michael V. Drake. “Our participation in UC3 significantly advances several long-term sustainability goals, including the university’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As a flagship public research university, we are leveraging our resources to explore cleaner energy sources and solve sustainability challenges in Ohio and around the world.”

Ohio State recently entered into a public-private energy management agreement with Ohio State Energy Partners to position the university as an international leader in sustainability and provide new resources to advance teaching, learning and research. Critical to the partnership is the commitment to launch an unprecedented energy efficiency program to modernize the 485 buildings on the Columbus campus, which will help the university make progress to meet its goal of 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2025.

In pursuit of its carbon-neutrality goal, the university has reduced its emissions by 4.8 percent since 2015, despite increasing student enrollment of nearly 2 percent during the same timeframe. In addition to energy efficiency measures implemented across the university, renewable wind energy accounts for 20 percent of the university’s total purchased electricity.

Harnessing the unique resources and convening power of member institutions, the UC3 coalition will work to inform and galvanize local, regional and national action on climate change. Coalition members will bring to these efforts a critical body of expertise in areas including advanced climate modeling, energy storage systems, next-generation solar cells and devices, energy-efficiency technologies, biofuels, smart grids, regulatory and policy approaches, and more.

Immediate goals for each UC3 member includes convening a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and other local stakeholders. Ohio State is planning a two-day climate change awareness event on May 18-19 that will showcase groundbreaking research and feature a community technology and science festival on Ohio State’s West Campus in Columbus.

UC3 will operate in close partnership with Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network, a group of hundreds of colleges and universities that have committed to taking action on climate.

Fourteen Ohio colleges and universities are participating in the Climate Leadership Network, so the initiative will have an impact in the state of Ohio as well as nationally.

A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world.

The University of California has been the driving force in creating the UC3. In addition to Ohio State and the UC system, other committed UC3 members include:

  • Arizona State University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
  • La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • The State University of New York (SUNY) system
  • The University of British Columbia
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • The University of New Mexico
  • The University of Toronto
  • The University of Washington

In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the UC3 coalition together performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation. From 2012 to 2017, researchers at UC3 member institutions were responsible for 48,518 publications on climate science-related topics, including environmental science, agricultural and biological sciences, energy, engineering, earth and planetary sciences, and more.

“The UC3 coalition believes that addressing climate change is an area where some of the world’s greatest research institutions can, and must, lead,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano.

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For more information about the UC3 coalition, visit http://secondnature.org/UC3.

To learn more about Ohio State’s sustainability efforts, visit osu.edu/initiatives/sustainability.


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Gina Langen
614-688-4423 | Email

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