Sustainability Fast Facts

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Sustainability Fast Facts

Looking for a quick run-down on some of Cornell's sustainability facts and highlights? The Sustainability Fast Facts provide an overview of our University's achievements and key commitments.

Do you have a fact you would like included in the Fast Facts? Send us an email. For more comprehensive facts and figures, browse this website or contact our team or visit these pages:

2022 Snapshot Facts

Last Updated July 2022

Climate Leadership

  • Cornell is the Top Ivy institution for sustainability according to the Princeton Review Green Honor Roll, STARS, and the Carbon Commitment

  • Cornell holds a Platinum Rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) — the highest possible — for comprehensive sustainability efforts.  Cornell is the first institution to have achieved this rating for three consecutive years

  • We are on track to meet our ambitious campus carbon neutrality goal by 2035, with a 51% reduction in emissions since 2008. Cornell has the most successful carbon reduction among Ivy League schools and has the most ambitious neutrality goal

  • Earth Source Heat is being explored as an option to heat the campus using a breakthrough deep geothermal technology

  • The Civic Ecology Lab hosts a large online course for international Cornell Climate Fellows which has reached 3,000+ citizens from 65 countries since 2017

  • 85% of students believe climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time

Public Engagement

 Campus Engagement

  • Residential composting was launched in all campus housing in ’18-19, diverting 39 gallons of food waste per week 

  • Planning for a campus-wide strategic sustainability plan aligned with UN Sustainable Development goals is underway

  • 75 Green Offices and 15 Green Labs have been certified across campus

  • Winter Energy Setback avoids an average of ~$100,000 in electricity costs each year  

  • The Campus Sustainability Maps feature 300+ points of interest including the 21 green buildings, bike parking, composting locations & gender-neutral bathrooms

  • New student orientation events include sustainability and climate literacy

  • 40+ student sustainability organizations

  • “Culture of Sustainability” award recognizes outstanding staff & team sustainability leadership

  • 100% of staff have sustainability as a key job responsibility across all positions and levels

 Campus Operations

  • 0% growth in energy use since 2000

  • Over a third of the way to carbon neutrality with emissions down 36% since 2008

  • 28 green buildings, including 5 LEED Platinum Buildings with green roofing and solar arrays

  • 15 solar arrays and a hydropower plant provide 100% renewable electricity on sunny days, all year

  • Lake Source Cooling provides 100% fossil-fuel-free renewable cooling to campus from Cayuga Lake

  • Total campus waste is down 1/3 in the last five years; reuse & reclamation doubled in the last year 

  • Cornell Farm composting diverts 4,000 tons of food waste from residences and dining halls annually

  • Water use has dropped 25% since 2005, with 116.5 million gallons conserved in the last year alone

  • Discounts for using your own mug at all dining locations

  • Free bus pass for every new student at Cornell

  • Peterson Parking Lot redesigned in 2018 filters stormwater pollutants and features native plantings 

  • A comprehensive LED lighting upgrade completed in 2019 will save the campus $5.6 million in the next 5 years 

  • Cornell Dining saved over 700lbs of plastic in food-plastic reduction pilot in 2019 focused on grab-and-go food

  • Grounds staff use a mobile solar trailer to power fossil-fuel-free landscaping equipment

  • Composting rates have doubled in the last two years

  • Sustainable Landscape Trail launched in 2018 featuring focal points of research and practice on campus

Academic Leadership

  • Sustainability research has increased 141% in the last decade, with 36% of all faculty contributing

  • 91% of academic programs offer sustainability courses, a total of 811 offerings across 29 departments

  • 41 undergraduate and 78 graduate sustainability majors, minors, or concentrations offered

  • 40+ living laboratory projects and learning initiatives support 6,000+ students each year

  • 544 faculty fellows are involved with sustainability research initiatives through the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability

  • Sustainability governance groups & Cornell Assemblies have all endorsed climate literacy goals for students & staff

  • 1500+ students have taken Leadership for Sustainability and Green Revolving Fund sustainability courses focused on peer education and campus operations