More Aggressive Climate Goals

A new task force charged with reducing Penn State’s carbon emissions will share its recommendations by the end of the year.

James-Black Knowledge Center at Penn State Behrend

Penn State is ahead of schedule to meet its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but President Eric Barron supercharged the effort this summer by creating the Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force, which is reconsidering the university’s 2050 goal with a view toward setting a more aggressive target and a revised time frame.

Comprising faculty members, staff members, and graduate and undergraduate students, the task force is identifying and evaluating short- and long-term operational strategies for lowering carbon emissions on all campuses. The group began meeting this summer and aims to share its recommendations by the end of this year. Areas of exploration include solutions to emissions related to electrical generation and purchase, thermal energy needs, travel and transportation, farming and related operations, and institutional policy changes.

“While Penn State has made good progress toward lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, scientific consensus suggests that we need to move faster,” says task force co-chair Robert Cooper, senior director of energy and engineering in Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant. “This task force will provide new focus on determining what our reduction goals should be and how and when we aspire to meet them.”

The university has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 35% since 2005 through strategies designed to use energy more efficiently; investing in energy conservation projects and renewable energy; and switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles, among other things. The original goal was to reduce greenhouse gas outputs to 85% below 2005 levels by 2050.