Climate Action Strategy

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The Climate Action Strategy is a key component of Lehigh's Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030.

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Overview

A key subcomponent of Lehigh's Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030 is the development of a Climate Action Strategy where Lehigh can demonstrate true climate leadership. A critical component of the strategy is to develop a comprehensive roadmap for measuring, planning, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will outline a set of energy efficiency projects that will reduce emissions and save the institution money. It will also establish greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and a future carbon neutrality date, subject to Board approval.

Development Strategy

The process for developing the Climate Action Strategy will take 6-8 months and includes:

  • Technical assessment - Reviewing legacy reports, conducting building energy audits, and doing energy project financing analysis

  • Experiential learning - Opportunities for our students to use our campus as a living laboratory

  • Connect with the community - Opportunities to learn, ask, and get involved

  • Mapping out pathways - Developing emissions reduction pathway options to present to the Board to establish a carbon neutrality goal

  • Final report - Maps out near-term, intermediate, and long-term goals

This project involves many stakeholders including the Office of Sustainability, LU Facilities, the Stone House Group (local engineering consulting firm), and Trust (engagement consulting firm). The Lehigh Industrial Assessment Center and Energy Systems Engineering are also involved in the 35+ building energy audits and data analysis through experiential learning opportunities.

Why

Many of Lehigh’s peer institutions have established carbon neutrality goals and, with support of their senior leadership and Boards, have developed Climate Action Plans that outline how they intend to meet their climate goals. By developing this strategy, we will also be upholding Lehigh’s 2009 Climate Commitment, in which Lehigh vowed to create institutional policies and procedures to protect and improve the environment, and its commitment to the 2017 We Are Still In pledge. By signing that pledge, Lehigh asserted that in the absence of federal support, it will pursue ambitious climate goals and provide leadership in reducing emissions. The City of Bethlehem is also completing a Climate Action Plan by the end of 2020. It is therefore important that Lehigh is proactively addressing climate action.

Working and Advisory Groups

 

 

Timeline

The timeline below shows the overall 6-8 month project process. There will be engagement opportunities throughout where we will be doing intentional communication and outreach. There will be future CPO updates and opportunities for input as we develop this pathway together.

 

Climate Action Strategy Course Toolkit

Do you want to integrate climate action into your courses? Check out our Climate Action Strategy CourseToolkit! The purpose of this toolkit is to assist faculty across Lehigh’s five colleges with integrating Lehigh’s commitment to sustainability and climate action (including key concepts like climate change, climate action, social justice, and resiliency) into your class(es). There are eight different paths this integration can take ranging from minimal to moderate effort. As sustainability becomes more central to the strategy of business and government, employers are increasingly emphasizing sustainability competencies, even for jobs that aren’t explicitly focused on sustainability. This means that students equipped with these competencies are in demand by employers. We encourage you to choose the integration path that works best for you and your course!

Monthly Updates

January 2021
  • Completed a Draft Final Energy Capital Investment Plan: In January, remaining data was analyzed and a draft final Energy Capital Investment Plan (essentially a prioritized list of energy projects by ROI, emissions reduction, etc.) was completed and shared with LU Facilities.  

  • Began Modeling Pathway Options: In January, we began to develop greenhouse gas emission reduction pathway options and we are currently narrowing it down to one recommended pathway.

  • Hosted Working Group and Advisory Group meetings: The most recent advisory group meetings (composed of faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and peer institution representatives) were hosted the week of January 11, and the next set of four working group meetings were hosted the week of January 18.

  • Published Climate Action Strategy Course Toolkit: In early January, we published the Climate Action Strategy Course Toolkit to the Curriculum Integration section of the Lehigh Sustainability website and the Teaching Sustainability Guide.The purpose of this toolkit is to assist faculty across Lehigh’s five colleges with integrating Lehigh’s commitment to sustainability and climate action (including key concepts like climate change, climate action, social justice, and resiliency) into their class(es).  Reach out to get your class involved!

  • Began to Develop Experiential Learning Opportunities for Post-Plan Implementation: We held an initial brainstorming session to develop a draft, multidisciplinary list of potential experiential learning opportunities for Lehigh students for post-plan implementation.  Another brainstorming session is scheduled.

  • City of Bethlehem Released Draft Climate Action Plan: The City of Bethlehem released their draft plan for public comment in December.  The public comment period closed in January. The Office of Sustainability provided feedback on behalf of Lehigh.  We are actively working on synergies and alignment between Lehigh’s strategy and the City’s.

December 2020
  • 100% of buildings audited: By December 18, walk-through energy audit inspections will be completed for 100% of the buildings we are auditing. 

  • Completed draft of Energy Capital Investment Plan: The draft Energy Capital Investment Plan (prioritized list of energy projects) has been completed by the Stone House Group and shared with the Building Energy Working Group for initial internal review.

  • Second set of meetings held: We held our second round of meetings with each of the four working groups (students, faculty, and staff) to begin refining and prioritizing strategies for reducing emissions.

  • Presented to CPO committee of Board: We presented an update on the Climate Action Strategy to the CPO committee of the Board of Trustees

November 2020
  • Hosted the Climate Action Strategy kick-off meeting: In late October, we hosted the Climate Action Strategy kick-off meeting with working groups and advisory groups composed of faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and peer institution representatives.

  • Completed 77% of building audits: Walk-through energy audit inspections have been completed for 77% of the buildings we are auditing. The remainder will be completed once students leave for winter break.

  • Hosted round one of working group meetings: Held our first round of meetings with each of the four working groups (students, faculty, and staff) to begin reviewing Lehigh's baseline information and generating ideas for strategies moving forward.

Ask

Who do I contact with additional questions?

You can contact the Office of Sustainability at sustainability@lehigh.edu with any questions you may have.

Opportunities to Engage

Share Your Thoughts

Thank you for your interest in staying up to date with Lehigh's Climate Action Strategy! There are many ways to get involved. Please share your thoughts and ask questions here.

We hosted 5 Ideation Sessions in the fall semester to gather input from the Lehigh Community. If you missed the sessions and would like to view a recording, click below.

"Our university plays an important and active role in the search for solutions to the problems of climate change."
President John Simon