Carbon Neutral Campus

students walking a bike through the quad with UH in the background

UIC pledges to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. UIC will be a carbon neutral campus once the amount of carbon the university emits through its operations, purchased electricity, and travel is reduced or offset entirely. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, UIC’s total emissions were 344,000 metric tons of GHG, measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (mtCO2e). Our GHG emissions come mostly from our on-site Power Plants and purchased electricity of about 250,000 mtCO2e in FY2004 and rising to 280,000 mtCO2e in FY2014. The rest of our tracked emissions come from our campus fleet, commuting, air travel, solid waste, and transmission line loss. See our Climate Action Plan (CAP) for more details on how GHG emissions are tracked and calculated. Our GHG emissions are also publicly reported on Second Nature's website.

The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to dramatically reduce the concentration of global carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the current level of approximately 400 parts per million (ppm). A sharp increase from pre-industrial levels of approximately 280 ppm, the current elevated levels of carbon dioxide are highly correlated to the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use that have occurred since pre-industrial times, causing an increase in average global temperatures. There is a high probability of catastrophic impacts if the global mean temperature increases over 1.5 - 2 degrees Celsius. In order to limit that temperature rise, global carbon emissions need to be reduced approximately 40-70% below 2010 levels by 2050 (International Panel on Climate Change, 2014).

UIC will strive to achieve carbon neutrality with net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through reducing and offsetting emissions related to operations and travel.

Aspirational Goals

1A. Reduce Building Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions – Reduce building GHG emissions related to building operation by 8,500 metric tons CO2 equivalent (mtCO2e) per year over the next five years.

1B. Invest in Renewable Energy – Purchase renewable energy through a long-term power purchase agreement. Integrate solar power electricity generation into campus structures, such as roofs, parking lots and structures.

1C. Utilize Parking Lots and Structures – Use parking lots and structures as an environmental asset to generate and save energy.

1D. Enhance Existing Power Generation – Optimize use of on-site cogeneration to maximize efficiency.

1E. Increase Alternative Transportation – Eliminate barriers to alternative modes for intracampus travel and commuting.