Sustainable Cornell Council

Committee Charges & Priorities

The Steering Committees of the Sustainable Cornell Council are charged with identifying, prioritizing, and advancing sustainability goals specific to their topic area, and task working groups to advance priorities each year.  Find out more about current priorities & work here.

The SCC launched in Fall 2019.  This page will be updated as priorities and working groups are identified.
General Committee Charges:  Sustainable Cornell Council Guidance Document

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Carbon Neutral Campus Committee

Advance campus carbon neutrality through implementation of the Climate Action Plan.

Working Priorities 

(Chairs) Lynden Archer, dean of engineering and Bert Bland, associate vice president for energy and sustainability

  • Low Carbon Business Travel & Air Travel Carbon Offsets
    Develop a plan for piloting voluntary carbon offsets for air travel in order to reduce the carbon footprint associated with business travel.  Additionally, study the benefits of reduced business travel and remote business participation during COVID-19 to identify areas for long-term adoption which benefit the academic mission and wellbeing of the Cornell community.

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Campus Operations Committee

Advance initiatives for a model sustainable campus that support climate resilience and human and planetary health

Working Priorities

(Chairs) Rick Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services and Pat Wynn, assistant vice president for student and campus life

  • Purchasing and Inventory Optimization
    Improve procurement of building outfitting and systems maintenance inventory to reduce redundancy and waste in these systems, and improve the sustainability of core products such as building cleaning, lighting, etc.

  • Dining Operations Food Waste Reduction
    Evaluate opportunities for food and other waste-minimization in both process and products in Dining Services back-of-house operations.

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Education & Engagement Committee

Cultivate literacy and a culture of sustainability responsibility that catalyzes participation across the campus community.

Working Priorities

(Chairs) Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs and Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education

  • Incoming Student Climate Literacy
    Advance climate change and sustainability knowledge and skillsets for all students, beginning with the creation of a "To-Do List Module" focusing on climate change in Fall 2020.

    • Fall 2020 Update: This working group successfully launched a To-Do List module for all incoming students which included a climate and sustainability literacy assessment to aid administrators and faculty in assessing the efficacy of educational opportunities at Cornell, and a sustainability & climate change culture and sense of belonging video featuring students, faculty, and staff exploring avenues for involvement in key issues at Cornell.  This module will be required for all incoming students in all semesters. 

  • Behavior Change & Choice Architecture
    Assess high-impact opportunities to optimize sustainable behaviors in areas such as food, recycling, and energy management in coordination with SCC Campus Operations.

  • Living Laboratory Program Assessment 
    Establish a definition of living laboratory research & create a roadmap for program impact & alignment with key academic objectives and operational goal advancement.

2019-2020 SCC Priorities

  • Protocol for Upstream Methane Leakage (Carbon Neutral Campus)
    Recommend a protocol for Cornell to assess and report the upstream methane emissions associated with natural gas use at the Central Energy Plant.  

  • Make or Buy Summer Electricity (Carbon Neutral Campus)
    Analyze the carbon impact of making power at the Central Energy Plant when waste heat cannot be utilized, vs. buying power from the grid.  

  • Transportation Impact Prioritization (Campus Operations)On hold / postponed due to COVID19
    Evaluate and create a prioritization matrix for Cornell’s investment across four sustainable transportation areas: Transportation Demand Management (TDM), updating fleet vehicles, improving access to public transit, and electrification solutions to improve adoption of sustainable commuting & business travel.