By Lisa Dulude | Jan 11, 2024
Lisa Dulude

This last year has been one of hard work! We rolled up our sleeves to kick off multiple university-wide projects, all of which are foundational for the UW to make progress on our sustainability goals.

Over the past several months, we’ve been working with a consultant team to conduct a comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for the UW. This is the university’s first comprehensive GHG inventory since 2005, and is the first time that UW has ever included emissions associated with the goods and services the university purchases. We expect to release the full inventory and report this January, including breaking out the emissions for each UW campus and major self-sustaining units such as UW Medicine, Housing & Food Services and Athletics. 

Having a strong greenhouse inventory is crucial to identifying where we should focus our efforts and resources when it comes to reducing our impact on climate change. This new information is foundational to the five-year update of UW’s Sustainability Action Plan, a multi-year effort that will begin this spring. UW Sustainability has also been working with stakeholders across our tri-campus community on a new Zero Carbon Roadmap, which is a planning tool summarizing strategies to get to net carbon neutrality 2050. We expect to have the Roadmap finalized later this year.

For the past year, UW Sustainability has been leading the update of the University’s Green Building Standard, in partnership with UW’s green building consultant. The process to update the UW’s Green Building Standards has been no small undertaking, and I am so grateful for the participation from faculty, staff, and students for their input and expertise. The new Green Building Standard includes four project tiers, including new construction and large renovations, minor renovations and partial fit-outs, energy consuming equipment, and small projects. For the first time ever, UW’s new Green Building Standard includes a requirement for embodied carbon which will help reduce lifecycle emissions from building materials such as concrete and steel.

This Fall, we helped organize two events to provide information about the UW’s decarbonization efforts. The Decarbonization Town Hall, hosted in collaboration with the Faculty Council on Campus Planning and Stewardship, was a panel discussion around UW’s existing plans, prospects for envisioning and funding decarbonization efforts, and the potential for the UW to be a leader in climate change response. Our Office hosted a Greenhouse Gas Emissions webinar as a preview of the data from the upcoming emissions inventory and how it will inform UW’s carbon reduction efforts. Both events were recorded and are available to watch.

Watch the Decarbonization Town Hall

Watch the GHG Emissions webinar

The UW Sustainability office is also in the process of hiring three new staff members to our team! I’m excited for the influx of new ideas, and more 'horsepower' to scale-up our work.