UF Climate Action Plan 2.0

A shared strategic framework for reducing and mitigating the University of Florida’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions in order to reach carbon neutrality, while supporting the university’s academic mission and improving the university’s resilience to related climate change impacts.

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As a leading public higher education institution, the University of Florida (UF) has a special imperative to explore bold and innovative solutions that address the environmental, social, and economic risks posed by climate impacts. UF became an early leader in measuring and addressing climate change impacts from campus activities when President Bernie Machen was one of the inaugural 12 leaders to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment nationwide in 2006. This launched a multi-year process to track campus greenhouse gas emissions and develop UF’s 1st Climate Action Plan, v1.0 in 2009.

By drawing upon the extensive knowledge, research & practice at the university, the UF Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2.0 is an opportunity to build off of the achievements made since 2009 and model a more resilient & sustainable future, prepare our students for work & life, and advance climate action solutions on campus and beyond.

CAP 2.0 is designed to build off of the success of the planning process and utilize the CAP Advisory Board & Working Groups to generate implementation Task Forces focused on various areas of the plan. The action plans that support each strategy outline tangible next steps while remaining flexible to changing resources and opportunities. Strategies and action plans will continue to be evaluated for impact and resources required. In this way, strategies and actions with the highest potential for impact will be brought to the forefront of UF’s Climate Action efforts.

Carbon Neutrality Target

In the UF CAP v1.0, UF set an ambitious goal to be carbon neutral for all currently tracked campus GHG emissions starting in 2025.

To renew and fulfill this goal, CAP 2.0 recommends several strategies to accelerate emissions reductions and develop carbon offset purchasing policies. Prioritizing reductions first & foremost while purchasing high-quality, verified offsets as necessary would allow UF to reach and sustain carbon neutrality into the future. Reaching this goal would position UF as a leader among higher education institutions with carbon neutrality goals and support future target-setting for net-zero emissions.

Impact on Academics

Climate action offers unique opportunities for education and research with far-reaching and interdisciplinary implications. CAP 2.0 outlines strategies that build upon existing efforts to expand curricular, co-curricular, and research opportunities by incorporating climate topics & solutions. These strategies serve to support the university’s mission for academic excellence. Strategies will support “Campus As a Living Lab” projects, leverage research to advance climate solutions, model leadership among R1 institutions, and better prepare students for work & life.

Aerial image of UF campus buildings

Impact on Emissions

With a core value of Stewardship, UF has the ability to use the strategies outlined in CAP 2.0 to continue to foster a high quality of life on campus and support an infrastructure for preeminence into the future. Reducing and mitigating emissions has several immediate and long-term benefits for the university including increased energy efficiency, improved building performance, avoided utility costs, and reduced vehicle pollution & traffic.

Impact on Resilience

Given the location of UF, in a state that is highly vulnerable to climate-related impacts (severe storms, drought, flooding, etc.), it is critically important that CAP 2.0 efforts also include resilience, or the ability to adapt, bounce back & flourish in the face of disruptions. At UF, climate resilience strategies mean bringing the preparation for, adaptation to, and recovery from climate-related impacts to the forefront of campus-wide planning, decision-making, and regional collaboration.

Strategies

The CAP 2.0 planning process was designed to identify common goals & values to build a plan that is led by vision, grounded in expertise, and supported by action.  Strategies are categorized by:

Energy & Buildings

Transportation

Education & Research

Resilience

Offsets & Finance

Key for Strategies

Energy & Buildings

UF will transition its energy use to limit reliance on fossil fuels and will operate a high-performing energy-efficient campus where space is used equitably and building standards support carbon neutrality.

On-Campus & Purchased Renewable Energy

GOAL:

UF will increase renewable energy in on-campus energy production and purchased electricity over the next five years.

STRATEGY 1: All purchased electricity for the main campus will be from renewable energy sources [renewable energy credits, solar energy purchases, etc.] by 2025.

Resources Time Impact
$$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: By 2025, install on-campus solar energy production up to the current limit set by Florida Public Service Commission (currently 4MW), and develop a plan to increase on-campus production if/when the limit is increased.

Resources Time Impact
$$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 3: By 2024, develop a plan to expand renewable thermal solutions where possible in order to transition away from fossil fuel reliance for campus thermal energy needs (e.g. transition steam to heating hot water).

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

Energy Demand Management

GOAL:

UF will reduce energy demand on campus annually over the next five years.

STRATEGY 1: Expand ongoing strategies to improve the efficiency of UF’s centralized utility management and distribution by reducing loss and optimizing redundancy.

Resources Time Impact
$$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: By 2023, establish a process for evaluating and piloting new technologies for improving energy efficiency at the campus and building levels.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 3: By 2024, develop a campus energy management plan.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 0-2 YRS

Sustainable Building Standards

GOAL:

UF will champion building standards that address carbon emissions and support the transition to a carbon-neutral campus.

STRATEGY 1: By 2024, develop a process for evaluating life-cycle emissions and adjust campus design standards to limit these emissions in the initial design, construction, and long-term operation of campus building projects entering the initial design phase in 2027.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: By 2024, increase staffing and resources to support the continued expansion of LEED and other sustainable building certification standards for all new & existing campus building projects.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

Building Efficiency & Optimization

GOAL:

UF will optimize building automation and control systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), square footage, & lighting systems to achieve higher energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and occupant comfort.

STRATEGY 1: Target efficiency projects within existing buildings that yield a minimum 50% project-level energy reduction from business-as-usual, to be completed by 2027.

Resources Time Impact
$$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: By 2023, internalize and standardize all levels of building commissioning for campus-wide consistency and tracking.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 0-2 YRS

 

Transportation

UF will minimize the need for gas-powered vehicle transportation on campus, to/from campus, and for business travel, as well as center alternative methods of transportation in planning and funding.

Low-Carbon Transportation On Campus

GOAL:

UF will reduce Single-Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) use for internal campus travel by increasing the use of no-carbon (walking, biking) and lower-carbon (public transit, electric, or alternative fuels) travel.

STRATEGY 1: By 2024, develop a Campus Bicycle Master Plan to outline programs that work in tandem with policy & physical infrastructure efforts to reduce barriers for bicycle use for internal campus travel.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Continue to expand campus initiatives that increase safety and accessibility of walking for internal campus travel.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Build off of current micro-mobility pilots (i.e. bike, E-scooter, E-bike, etc.) to develop innovative policies that reduce barriers to use and incentivize these methods for on-campus travel.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 4: Increase the total percentage of the UF community using RTS, Campus Cab, Campus Connector, and other public transit options for internal campus travel by providing incentives and improving awareness/convenience.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 2-5 YRS

Low-Carbon Alternatives for Commute

GOAL:

UF will reduce the total percentage of commutes (traveling to/from campus) via Single-Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) by 20% for employees and by 25% for students.

STRATEGY 1: By 2024, develop a Transportation Demand Management Plan (Multimodal commuter support programs (ped/bike/bus/carpool/etc)).

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Provide updated training and onboarding materials for UF employees and students regarding sustainable transportation options for commuting.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Continue to work within UF & with the City of Gainesville to identify new opportunities for funding & implementation of non-SOV modes of transportation for equitable options for commuting to/from the main campus.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

Low-Carbon Alternatives for UF-Sponsored Travel

GOAL:

UF will reduce the carbon intensity of UF-sponsored travel (fleet, business, air) by continuing to shift to electric vehicles and supporting low-carbon alternatives for business/air travel.

STRATEGY 1: Create a fleet management policy for higher fuel efficiency standards for the UF fleet and manage the number of university vehicles while providing cost-effective electric and hybrid vehicle alternatives.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Increase infrastructure, policies, & education across departments to support the expansion of Electric Vehicles in the UF Fleet.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 0-2 YRS

Education & Research

Students will leave UF with knowledge of climate change gained through their coursework in order to be informed global citizens and leaders, equipped for success in the job market, and meaningfully engaged in their communities.

Climate Change-Related Curriculum Opportunities

GOAL:

UF will ensure that all undergraduate students have increased access and awareness of climate change-related curriculum and courses during their time at UF.

STRATEGY 1: By 2023, have a centralized database for students to more easily access information about climate change-related curriculum, including program, course syllabi, and schedule of offerings.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: By 2023, conduct a climate change literacy assessment through campus-wide surveys to establish a baseline for future assessment.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Seek to include climate change-related courses as part of undergraduate general education requirement.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 4: Seek to increase the number of academic programs with at least one climate change-related learning outcome by providing UF faculty and departments with access to climate change-related curriculum development resources.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

Campus As A Living Lab Opportunities

GOAL: 

UF will increase opportunities for UF students & faculty to use “Campus as a Living Lab” (CALL) – exploring & contributing to practical solutions for campus challenges associated with climate change mitigation & adaptation.

STRATEGY 1: Launch a web-based platform to support collaborations among faculty/staff to provide climate change-related CALL opportunities for credit (capstones, masters, etc.).

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Expand online resources (e.g., GatorPower) to compile available campus operations data for climate change-related CALL opportunities.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

Leadership, Research, and Expertise

GOAL:

UF will demonstrate leadership in advancing climate change solutions, including those that prioritize climate & social justice, by leveraging new and existing climate change research, relationships and expertise.

STRATEGY 1: Create cluster hire of faculty in climate change research.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: UF will seek partnerships with other leading R1 universities nationally to collaborate on advancing climate solutions, research, & policy.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Leverage existing connections across UF/IFAS extension offices with climate-related research state-wide.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 4: Support resources for a university-wide collaborative to accelerate work in sustainability and climate justice on campus and in the region.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

Resilience

Improving resilience at UF means bringing the preparation for, adaptation to, and recovery from climate-related impacts to the forefront of campus-wide planning, decision-making, and regional collaboration, in order to flourish in the face of acute disruption and long-term stressors.

Collaborative Campus Resiliency Framework

GOAL: 

By 2025 UF will have enhanced its resiliency frameworks and associated strategies in the UF master plan and system plans to ensure broader integration across sectors and be prepared for disruption and change.

STRATEGY 1: Share CAP resilience strategies effectively across campus master planning, strategic planning, infrastructure planning, and committee processes to improve expert information exchange and avoid conflicting planning outcomes.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Ensure that climate-related scenarios are incorporated into ongoing planning processes such as emergency management, landscape management, stormwater management, and other infrastructure planning.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

Resilient Campus Systems

GOAL: 

UF will expand resources and strategies that contribute to the resilience of resource-access systems including energy, food and water, in order to prepare for and manage acute climate impacts.

STRATEGY 1:  Identify ongoing strategies outlined in CAP and elsewhere that strengthen reliable access to resources on campus, including energy, food, and utilities for the campus community.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Continue to evaluate UF’s role in regional food systems and expand local partnerships focused on improving the resilience and sustainability within these systems.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Implement innovative ways to reduce potable water use for non-potable needs (e.g. cooling towers, grey-water flushing, rainwater collection) and total water usage by 5% over the next 5 years.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 0-2 YRS

State & Local Partnerships For Resilience

GOAL: 

UF will be a driving force in strengthening collaborative and inclusive partnerships with local and state entities to advance climate action and resilience goals by 2025. 

STRATEGY 1: Build upon partnerships with city and county planning departments to coordinate with ongoing regional and local climate adaptation and resilience planning efforts.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Increase partnerships with community-based organizations that focus on building capacity for equity, strengthening social networks, or improving resource security/access.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 2-5 YRS

Offsets & Finance

UF will have a robust, diverse set of finance and offset options for achieving a long-term commitment to carbon neutrality, academic excellence, and climate resilience.

Funding Climate Action Projects

GOAL: 

As soon as possible, UF will secure initial funding and develop a roadmap of long-term strategies to fund climate action projects as outlined in UF CAP 2.0.

STRATEGY 1: Expand on the $3.5 million Green Revolving Fund being piloted by Facilities Services for Education and General (E&G) buildings and create a centralized Green Revolving Fund with $15 million seed funding to fund efficiency for all UF building types (e.g. IFAS, Housing, Transportation, University Athletic Association, UF Health).

Resources Time Impact
$$$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Starting immediately, put savings from energy projects into a campus-wide revolving fund to reinvest in efficiency upgrades, and be available to all UF buildings.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Incorporate carbon reduction into prioritization for deferred maintenance funds.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 4: Identify new funding sources and develop innovative models for existing funds to pursue climate action goals.

Resources Time Impact
$$ 0-2 YRS

Innovative Carbon Offsets

GOAL: 

UF will develop and use innovative and high-quality carbon offsets to account for carbon emissions that cannot be reduced.

STRATEGY 1: Adopt a campus-wide carbon offset purchasing policy for future offset decisions to account for various emissions types.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS

STRATEGY 2: Manage UF lands (on- and off-campus) with the goal of absorbing carbon where possible under land management protocols.

Resources Time Impact
$ 2-5 YRS

STRATEGY 3: Evaluate ways to develop additional UF and local offsets as part of the Second Nature Offset Network.

Resources Time Impact
$ 0-2 YRS