As the Campus Sustainability Coordinator, I'm thrilled to provide an update on the progress being made to improve sustainability at NIU.
At the time I write this in August 2022, NIU just formally committed to address climate change by becoming a signatory to the Second Nature President's Climate Leadership Carbon Commitment. In doing so, NIU commits to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible.
Last year NIU completed its first greenhouse gas inventory. The results of this inventory will help us as we begin the process of climate action planning on campus, in order to meet the commitment we've made to decarbonize campus as soon as possible. This coming year, we'll be working on writing NIU's first Sustainability and Climate Action plan. This will be a collective effort, with the plan drafted by members from across campus and opportunities for feedback at public townhalls from all students, faculty, staff and community members.
In March and April last year, NIU joined educators from around the world in the Worldwide Teach-In for Climate Justice. At NIU, we hosted 14 public events, including several panel discussions, a documentary screening and a 30-day sustainability challenge. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff participated and showed their commitment to thinking about how Huskies can be involved in addressing climate justice. NIU will participate in the Teach-In event again in 2023. Join us!
NIU students were also busy helping to prepare an application for Tree Campus USA certification. They helped to write NIU's first tree care plan, helped to coordinate the planting of new trees on Lucinda Ave and hosted an Arbor Day event. We are hopeful that NIU will obtain the certification this coming year.
Finally, data collection continues for the AASHE STARS (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System). The STARS program rates campus sustainability based on credits earned through different sustainability activities they engage in. It allows NIU to benchmark against other universities and points to ways to improve sustainability on our campus. Completing STARS will be an important part of NIU's sustainability and climate action planning process in the coming year.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in these efforts this past year, and I encourage you to get involved or stay involved moving forward. These are exciting times for sustainability at NIU!
Courtney Gallaher, Ph.D.
Campus Sustainability Coordinator
Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality