Brown University, RI "Brown is Green (BIG)"

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Brown University, RI, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 1990

Source File:


About Brown is Green
Brown Is Green (BIG) began in 1990 as an environmental education and advocacy initiative at Brown University. The purpose was to expand the involvement of undergraduates in the research and analyses of environmental problems related to University operations and provide a model for active learning that could be replicated nationally. Initial projects included energy conservation and pollution reductions, and grew to include environmentally responsible design, energy efficiency, resource recovery, water conservation, and transportation.

In 2003, Brown University President Ruth Simmons signed a pledge sponsored by the New England Board of Higher Education to:

1. assess Brown’s energy use and pursue policies and programs to reduce our energy consumption;
2. develop long-term plans to shift away from carbon intensive fuel sources to clean, renewable energy sources;
3. educate our students on the problem of global climate change; and
4. to incorporate the issue of global climate change into our curriculum, where feasible.

An Energy and Environmental Task Force was established to assess the University’s baseline situation and impact and provide recommendations. In October 2006, the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) was established to develop long and short term energy and environmental goals and strategies. The EEAC released its first set of recommendations spring 2007 for Brown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to have the University move toward climate neutrality. The recommendations included reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10-15% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to aspire to a goal of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Committee also recommended that Brown achieve carbon neutrality by FY2008 in part by initiating carbon offset projects in the local community. In response to the latter recommendation, the Community Carbon Use Reduction at Brown (CCURB) Grant was created. The administration approved additional recommendations in January 2008.

The BIG website was selected to be the communication tool through which progress on the recommendations and adoptions will flow. BIG will also continue to be a valuable resource for information about its initial projects and will include links to other Brown environmental initiatives, student groups, community projects, courses, and research.

University Commitments

Community Carbon Use Reduction at Brown (CCURB)
With support from the Sidney E. Frank Foundation and the Office of the President, Brown has provided $350k to support a pilot program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the greater Providence area. The Community Carbon Use Reduction at Brown (CCURB) project will help catalyze local carbon emissions reductions through an investment of financial resources and development of collaborations of community and civic groups with Brown students, faculty and staff on a diversity of activities. Projects that accomplish the dual goals of helping meet the needs of the greater Providence neighborhoods while reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be the focus of these off-campus projects.

Energy and Emissions
In the spring of 2007, the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee evaluated environmental impacts and emissions and made recommendations to the University. Retrofits of lighting, motors and mechanical equipment have been completed in many existing buildings. Over $5 Million in investments to increase efficiency has been approved for completion projects in FY 2008 and $15 million has been allocated for improvements in the coming years. An energy management policy establishes expectations for temperatures and staff responsibilities to conserve energy. Brown initially completed a carbon emissions inventory in 1998 and is updated on a regular basis.

Brown Facilities Management Custodial Office manages the solid waste program that diverts an average of 35% of materials for recycling. Collection containers are distributed extensively around the campus. Brown, along with 16 other schools, received an Innovation Award from the National Recycling Coalition for participation in the Recyclemania competition in 2004, and has particpated every year since then. The recycling program was established in the 1970s and Brown students played an instrumental role in establishing a state-wide mandatory recycling program in RI.

High Performance Design and Green Building
Projects since 1992 have typically reduced energy consumption to 30% below code requirements by utilizing energy modeling in designing and installing high efficiency equipment. Brown committed in January 2008 to:

  • Reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 42% below 2007 levels (equaling 15% below 1990 levels) by 2020 for its existing buildings. Brown will set interim goals as soon as feasible and will monitor its progress annually.
  • Limit greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption for all newly constructed facilities to between 25% and 50% below the standard required by state code. New construction will, at a minimum, meet a Silver standard in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), furthering sustainability goals.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions for all newly acquired facilities by a minimum of 15% and as much as a 30%.

A transportation office was formed in 2004 to manage a comprehensive transportation demand management program that includes incentives for carpools, subsidized fares for bus ridership, and parking policies that discourage single-occupancy vehicles. Significant changes and additions were made to the campus shuttle program. A “Bike To Brown” support group was established to encourage cycling to work. A purchasing policy requires vehicles to be in the top 25% of the EPA fuel economy standards and restricts the purchase of SUVs. Several departments on campus utilize hybrid, natural gas, or biodiesel-fueled vehicles. ZipCars are available on campus. In September of 2007 Brown partnered with the local transportation authority to provide free bus transportation, called UPASS, for students, staff and faculty of the University. The goal of this program is to reduce fuel emissions and ease congestion. In the six months since the program’s inception, bus use has increased 189% over the same period last year.

Brown Dining Local Food Initiative
Brown Dining strives to purchase locally grown and fairly traded foods through its Community Harvest program. Their After the Harvest program provides compost material to a local orchard, applicable pre-and post-consumer (90% of dining hall tray waste) waste to a local pig farmer, and grease and fats to a rendering company. They further reduce waste by providing biodegradable to-go containers and unbleached napkins. Purchasing

Faculty, Staff, and others are strongly encouraged to take a pro-active position in identifying and examining opportunities to procure “environmental friendly” materials/equipment. This initiative focuses along the complete “supply chain” management process including assessment of alternative materials, vendor sourcing and selection, and ultimate disposal of waste/surplus. Surplus property is defined as any property to be traded-in against a new purchase, cannibalized for spare parts, externally transferred, donated to a non-profit charitable/community organization, sold for salvage value, or destroyed (waste removal). It can be disposed of in accordance with the Disposition of Brown University Surplus Property policy.