Rice University announces its plans to be carbon neutral by 2030
A Houston school has announced its mission to achieve carbon neutrality in the next eight years, and university executives described how exactly they will get there.
Last week, Rice University President David Leebron and Provost Reginald DesRoches wrote a letter describing the university's community as eager to participate in initiatives to stave off climate change on campus.
"Given the commitment of Rice faculty to research and scholarship that supports human knowledge and progress, it is unsurprising that this issue has been addressed from many disciplinary perspectives," the letter reads. "Our faculty, students and staff have a strong desire to contribute to solutions and to see their university as an active participant in the global effort to address climate change and other pressing environmental issues."
Leebron and DesRoches's letter explains how Houston is at the forefront of the energy industry and must continue to lead the sector by developing, implementing and transitioning to clean technologies
"The success of both Rice and Houston are closely intertwined, not only with respect to our future competitiveness but also in our shared vulnerability to the impacts of climate change on the Gulf Coast," the letter continues.
The university outlines four initial strategic focus points, including research, endowment, student leadership, and campus changes.
"By making these commitments we are placing investments in the environment as one of the university’s highest funding priorities," the university explains. "Many of the actions we describe below will require significant financial investment and we will need to determine how best to secure necessary resources and prioritize them among other university endeavors."
The Rice Management Co. Board of Directors meeting in December approved the addition of a sustainability statement. Additionally, RMC and Rice received board approval to become a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.
On campus, the university will implement several sustainability practices, including:
- Rice will aim to have its new construction project achieve gold certification level in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating program.
- Rice will invest in water efficiency and conservation projects to reduce overall consumption of potable water while also leveraging alternative water sources such as captured rainwater.
- Rice's sustainability, facilities and finance teams will partner with the Rice Management Co. to identify viable emissions reduction opportunities.
From a research perspective, many faculty members are working on sustainable projects and Rice is offering new funding opportunities for this research.
"In late 2021, the Office of Research launched a 'Sustainable Futures' seed fund through the Creative Ventures Fund program to support interdisciplinary research on the broad range of environmental challenges for which Rice could be a leader," according to the university. "This fund promotes the development of new research or academic partnerships that extend across multiple schools to engage faculty in new and creative scholarship."
The Office of Research received 23 proposals in response to its initial call for proposals, and, according to the release, funding will be increased to support more projects. The Office of Research will announce its second call for proposals later this year.
The letter concludes on a hopeful outlook on Rice University's plans to meet carbon neutrality and help Houston lead the energy transition.
"The actions we collectively take or fail to take as a society this decade will directly impact the well-being and prosperity of future generations as well as ourselves. As a university committed to the discovery, transmission and application of knowledge, we must assure that we are contributing to addressing the most fundamental challenges of our time," reads the letter. "Rice University and Houston have a unique role to play in building that future and we intend to be significant participants and leaders in this ambitious undertaking."