Climate change is one of the biggest environmental threats the planet has ever seen, and will impact everything from the levels of the oceans (leading to flooding and weather events), to food security (through the creation of new deserts, called desertification). While Mason’s footprint is small compared to the rest of the world, the university continues to grow – more buildings, cars, and people mean more emissions. Addressing the climate is Mason’s top environmental priority as nearly all of our environmental impacts can be tied to emissions production. We need everyone’s help – students, faculty and staff – to meet our goals. Please join us!
Back in 2007, George Mason University’s President Merten signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which committed Mason to becoming climate neutral by 2050. With this commitment, the university is actively taking steps to reduce its environmental impact, primarily the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with the university’s operations.
As stated in its 2010 Climate Action Plan, Mason purchased wind powered Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to offset a portion of its annual electricity use. Mason offset 5% of its electricity consumption in 2011, 10% in 2012 and 2013, and 15% in 2014 totaling 46 million kwh of energy purchased. These REC purchases offset millions of pounds of (CO2) emissions a year and supported the development of the renewable energy industry in the United States. As a result, Mason was recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner.
Moreover, Mason agreed to incorporate sustainability into its academic and extracurricular offerings. We now have 18 undergraduate degrees, minors, and certificates, and five graduate degrees. Combined, we have over 125 sustainability-related courses at Mason. Most of these courses at Mason include experiential learning opportunities, where students investigate important environmental courses right here on campus!
Mason has made real progress since the 2007 climate commitment, completing several Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories to measure its emissions, producing its first Climate Action Plan which serves as a road map for achieving climate neutrality, and reporting on its sustainability progress with a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) report.