NU Sustainability

NU Sustainability Facts

  • NU uses almost all hydrogenerated electricity.
  • Since hydropower is such a valuable resource, the university still plans to reduce its electric consumption while adding the 55,000-square-foot B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences to its campus.
  • NU has planted over 200 new trees on its campus within the last three years.
  • The university is committed to supporting local farmers. In 2010, local farmers were invited to campus to sell fresh vegetables and flowers.
  • NU's cleaning contractor, Unicco Services, has changed all of its cleaning chemicals to environmentally-friendly products that are good for the environment and safer for the janitorial staff and students.
  • From an educational perspective, the university, under the leadership of Drs. William Edwards and Mark Gallo, has established an interactive environmental studies program. Students taking this course study the quality of local water, wetlands and the Niagara Gorge’s plant life.
  • NU's new buildings are energy efficient, utilizing the latest in construction technology for building efficiency. Eco-friendly additions to Monteagle Ridge include green roofs (live plants), and efficient building envelops with spray-on insulation, the first of its kind in Western New York.
  • In conjunction with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the university donates its used furniture to the local community (private individuals and non-profits).
  • NU has added many new recycling bins to its campus and is working diligently at reducing paper usage by dual-side printing and encouraging employees to print only when necessary.
  • The university has a dedicated funding source for its sustainable programs, which it uses to buy recycling bins, rain barrels and energy projects, among other items.
  • The ReNU Niagara program works with the local community to plant vegetable gardens and is building portable green houses. Furthermore, participants are teaching the community members how to tend to the gardens with some student assistance.

NU's Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and, in particular, climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc.

NU's Total Net Emissions: 9,760.6 MTeCO2

  • Scope 1 emissions: 312.6 MTeCO2
  • Scope 2 emissions: 5,986.5 MTeCO2
  • Scope 3 emissions: 3,461.4 MTeCO2


  • This was calculated using the Clean Air Cool Planet Campus Climate Action Toolkit, v6.6
  • MTeCO2 = Metric tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalents, an international standard for global warming potential ("GWP"). CO2 has a set standard GWP of 1, but CH4 is 23 GWPs.
  • Scope 1: Carbon emissions are what NU releases directly on campus, such as on-campus gasoline usage, refrigeration and agriculture.
  • Scope 2: Carbon emissions are released off-site, from the electricity et al NU uses onsite.
  • Scope 3: Carbon emissions are those NU is indirectly responsible for, such as solid waste (landfill and sewage), commuters burning gas to get to and from campus, flights NU finances for faculty trips and paper used (an "upstream" responsibility).

American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment

What does it mean for NU?

  • Creating a committee to oversee the implementation of the PCC.
  • Completing a greenhouse gas inventory of the university.
  • Creating a climate action plan within two years to reduce waste and eventually aim for carbon neutrality.
  • Creating a timeline for implementing the components of the climate action plan.
  • Incorporating sustainability into the curriculum.
  • Providing public access to all reports, progress and achievements of the PCC.

Environmental Goals

  • Identify areas where the university can benefit from more environmentally responsible practices.
  • Facilitate positive actions to improve the physical environment of the university.
  • Educate and explore opportunities to improve or start new educational programs that highlight "green issues" on our campus.
  • Lead or initiate programs to improve our physical surroundings and build awareness to the issues that confront our world.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Goals

  • Reduce: Minimize our waste stream by increasing our knowledge   of other environmentally-friendly processes and actions.
  • Reuse : Start or enhance programs that will increase the life of previously purchased materials.
  • Recycle: Promote the increased use, and ease of programs that restore materials to an almost new condition.

Energy Goals

  • Change the way the university faculty, staff and administration think about energy usage.
  • Find ways to conserve electricity and avoid using fossil fuel-generated electricity.
  • Consider alternatives to fossil fuels for vehicles and building systems.
  • Recommend that we purchase items that are energy efficient.
  • Communicate what Niagara is doing to protect the environment to the university community.