Measuring Our Impact
EMU started gathering various types of data more comprehensively in the mid 2000s to develop an environmental footprint for the university and to create a baseline against which we can track improvements.
Committed to Climate Neutral by 2035
EMU believes our campus community has the potential to be a model and a leader in our community and even globally for ways to address climate change. President Swartzendruber signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment in 2013 after careful consultation with members of the EMU community.
The 2015 Climate Action Plan lays out the path for EMU to achieve climate neutrality by 2035. This plan is meant to be a living document that is continually updated as knowledge improves in how best to reduce our climate warming impact. The 20-year plan requires careful organizational support and follow-through, the ability of the institution to engage students around climate change, and the creativity of the institution to find funding for the projects needed to meet our commitment. To reach this goal, EMU will strive first to reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible, and second, to invest in local or globally-affiliated projects to offset the basic emissions we are unable to reduce and still function as a university.
Nitrogen Footprinting at the Forefront of Sustainability
Download EMU’s Nitrogen Footprint Report
In 2014 EMU joined a collaboration of other universities researching institutional nitrogen footprints, led by the University of Virgnia and including Dickinson College, University of New Hampshire, Colorado State University, Brown University and the Marine Biological Laboratories. Instead of tracking global warming gases like in our carbon footprint, a nitrogen footprint tracks reactive nitrogen lost to the environment due to on and off-campus activities required for EMU to operate. Fossil fuels burned for energy and transportation are serious contributors to the build-up of nitrogen in our environment, with food production and consumption as the largest contributor to excess nitrogen as can be seen in our Nitrogen Footprint Final Report. While not as well know to the public as the imbalance in earth’s carbon cycle, humanity’s faces perhaps an equally challenging problem of excessive nitrogen added to the earth’s nitrogen cycle through the use of nitrogen fertilizer for growing food and the combustion of fossil fuels. Effects of too much nitrogen in our environment include forest die-back, stream acidification, ozone depletion, global warming, algal blooms and ocean dead zones.