SUSTAINABILITY PLAN

Climate change presents one of the most urgent issues facing our world today. As a global leader in research and academics, Johns Hopkins University recognizes the need to take action. A new university-wide Sustainability Plan will leverage the university’s unique interdisciplinary expertise to create an ambitious and holistic vision for a sustainable future.

The Sustainability Plan will outline interim goals and key objectives until 2030, while laying the groundwork for milestones that require longer planning and coordination. Accompanying the establishment of a holistic vision for sustainability, the Plan will also provide a roadmap to reduce the institution’s greenhouse gas emissions, establish high-performance and healthy building guidelines, and assess climate risks and resilience strategies.

ENGAGEMENT PROCESS

The JHU Sustainability Plan is being developed with input from stakeholders in schools and divisions throughout the university, as well as feedback from community partners across Baltimore. There will be considerable opportunities for participation and engagement throughout the process, and and all members of the JHU community are asked to provide input to inform the Plan’s development.

Community of Interest Page

For more in depth information on the process, please visit the Community of Interest site. This page will be continually updated with key Plan documents, meeting notes, engagement opportunities, and more. The Community of Interest site is currently only accessible to those with a JHED-ID. If you don’t have one, please email sustainability@jhu.edu to be added to the Community of Interest. 

ADVISORY STRUCTURE

The Sustainability Plan will be guided by a series of overarching committees comprised of faculty, student, staff, alumni, and community partners that will advise in the Plan creation process. These include:

    The Sustainability Plan Steering Committee is comprised of diverse representatives from across JHU’s campuses, schools, and divisions that provide strategic guidance to ensure the Plan outcomes represent JHU stakeholders and community partners in making final recommendations to university leadership.

    The Research & Academic Advisory Group leverages the university’s deep academic expertise to inform conceptual and technical aspects of the Sustainability Plan. The group will advise the plan development by providing review of documents related to the vision, scope, and framing, as well as by responding to targeted questions on text and analyses. The Research & Academic Advisory Group plays a particularly salient role in identifying opportunities to align the Sustainability Plan with the university’s unique strengths in sustainability-relevant research and education.

    The Business & Operations Advisory Group provides technical and conceptual subject matter expertise to inform the components of the Sustainability Plan that touch on areas of infrastructure, procurement, and the built environment. The group will be comprised of faculty, students, and staff with an interest and knowledge in areas of operational-related sustainability across a range of schools and divisions.

    In an effort to strengthen partnerships with surrounding communities, a Community Advisory Group aims to engage community members in the development of a Sustainability Plan for the University. The goal is a Plan that responds not only to issues on Johns Hopkins’ campuses but to issues relevant to surrounding neighborhoods, especially those individuals disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental degradation.

    A number of topical working groups will contribute to the overall Sustainability Plan process. This includes areas of decarbonization, climate resilience, high-performance and healthy buildings, and more.

    HISTORY

     This new Sustainability Plan builds off of the JHU Climate Change Implementation Plan, which was developed by the 2008 President’s Task Force on Climate Change under former President William R. Brody and signed by President Daniels in December of 2009.

    The initial Task Force committed the university to a variety of strategies including reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 51% by 2025, which will be achieved in 2022 as a result of the university’s Solar Agreement announced on Earth Day 2019.

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    The University set its first carbon reduction goals in 2008, pledging to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 51% by 2025. JHU is set to reach this goal in 2022, three years ahead of schedule, thanks to proactive investments in energy conservation and the signing of a 15-year Solar Agreement with Baltimore-based Constellation. This was the largest renewable energy agreement of any single U.S. university at the time of its signing as well as the largest in the state of Maryland, ensuring all of JHU’s purchased electricity is covered under the agreement. 

    Recognizing that climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time, JHU will set an ambitious new carbon reduction goal as part of the Sustainability Plan. A decarbonization working group, composed of faculty, staff, students, and consultants will work collaboratively to create a roadmap prioritizing on-campus climate action. The decarbonization roadmap will then be presented to the entire JHU community for feedback and input.  

    This will be complemented by a climate resilience working group helping to assess the risks of climate change to JHU’s campus and community and determining initial resilience and adaptation strategies to aid in preparedness. 

    The most impactful action we can take to reduce our reliance on incinerators and landfills is to reduce the waste we generate. JHU will work to prioritize decision-making and behavioral practices that adhere to the zero-waste hierarchy supporting reduction and reuse first. The university will examine its purchasing policies and practices, harness the talent and creativity of its academic and research community, and work collectively to shift a culture of consumption to eliminate or replace materials that are not reusable or recyclable. Additionally, JHU will continue to work with its partners in the Greater Baltimore City region, including the Department of Public Works and various nonprofits, to eliminate food waste, increase food recovery and donation, and encourage the development of local composting infrastructure. 

    The Sustainability Plan is structured as an ambitious planning process to expedite JHU’s response to the global climate crisis and local sustainability challenges and includes multiple project scopes organized within a single framework to be as time-efficient and integrative as possible. This Plan development process will result in catalyzing JHU’s action into a cohesive 2030 framework that will include low hanging fruit (actions that we can implement as soon as possible and will reduce our environmental impact in the near term.), as well as longerterm goals which require more substantial time horizons to implement. Interim goals will be set on the basis of impact and social responsibility to meet science-based approaches to sustainability planning.  

    The Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee (PIIAC) is the JHU body which considers all requests for divestment with the ultimate decision made by the Board of Trustees. PIIAC was convened several years ago to examine the topic of fossil fuel divestment from the university endowment leading to the university’s 2017 decision to divest from companies involved in the extraction of thermal coal. Please read more about this decision here

    All feedback, including the topic of divestment, will be documented throughout the Sustainability Plan development process and shared for consideration. 

    The Sustainability Plan Steering Committee and Office of Sustainability encourages widespread participation from members of the JHU community throughout all schools and divisions, as well as local community partners. The best way to get involved is to fill out this interest form, or email sustainability@jhu.edu

    There will be considerable opportunities for direct feedback throughout the Plan process. These will include topic-based workshops, open comment periods, surveys, stakeholder meetings, and a second university-wide town hall. These engagements will be used to inform the development and prioritization of the Sustainability Plan goals and strategies as well as the Plan’s vision and guiding principles. Information on events and engagement opportunities will continue to be announced throughout the Sustainability Plan development process via a multitude of channels.  

    If you are seeking more in-depth information on the process, the JHU Sustainability Plan Community of Interest page is available as a more detailed website and information repository of key documents, meeting notes, and other information on the overall process. This site will be used to ensure transparency and for stakeholders to see how their feedback is being incorporated throughout the Plan’s development. Check back to stay updated on current efforts, learn about engagement opportunities, provide feedback, and more.  

    Although the current Sustainability Plan does not apply to the health system, JHHS is looking at how the health system can develop efforts that will complement or work in concert with the University’s plan. Numerous professionals involved in facilities management for JHHS and the School of Medicine participate together on Sustainability Plan committees due to shared space between both institutions. 

    The Sustainability Plan is being actively managed by the JHU Office of Sustainability, and members of the Sustainability Leadership Council (SLC) play a significant part in the Plan’s development (and will be integral to its execution). The SLC is an independent council created to provide advice and recommendations to the Provost on policies, programs, and other initiatives that will build a greater role for Johns Hopkins in teaching, research, and leadership on environmental sustainability, both locally and globally.   

    A major strength of the SLC is the breadth of content area expertise of its member faculty, student, staff, and alumni. The Sustainability Plan process will also harness this expertise through a series of Advisory Groups and Working Groups that will inform the goals of the Plan. While not all members of the Sustainability Plan working and advisory groups will be recruited from the SLC and vice versa, there will be significant overlap. 

    Furthermore, in order to establish accountability beyond the drafting process and into the Sustainability Plan’s execution, the SLC’s own committees and working groups will focus on aligning their ongoing projects and priorities with those that are anticipated to emerge with the Plan’s development. 

    Have another question you don’t see answered? Please email us at sustainability@jhu.edu, and we will do our best to answer and/or add to the FAQ.