Climate Action Week

View overlooking campus buildings and a distant hill

Climate Action Week

Join us for Cornell's first Climate Action Week, a call to action on climate change, featuring conversations, actions, tours, and community-building. The campaign is inspired by Cornell University's Climate Action Plan, the overarching plan for achieving carbon neutrality for campus operations by 2035.

Get Involved

Climate Action Week begins November 14th, 2022
With events and opportunities through November 18th, 2022

Open to all students, faculty, staff, and Cornell community members
See full Cornell Events Calendar listing

Featured Recordings:

Measuring the Sustainability of Food Production Systems: Exploring the Solution Space
Wednesday, November 9th, 12:25pm to 1:15pm EST
Zoom, 151 Warren Hall

Sustainable food systems aim to provide sufficient and nutritious food, while maximizing climate resilience and minimizing environmental impacts. Yet historical practices, notably the Green Revolution, prioritized the single objective to maximize production over other nutritional and environmental dimensions. Join Dr. Kyle Davis (University of Delaware) as he explores ways to maintain humanity's achievements while overcoming past shortcomings of global food systems.
Part of the Perspectives in Global Development Fall 2022 Seminar Series

President of Iceland: Can Small States Make a Difference?
Thursday, November 10th, 4:30pm to 6:00pm EST
Livestream (In-person: Sold Out)

Although geographically distant, Cornell and Iceland are close in spirit, particularly when it comes to a commitment toward sustainability. In his lecture "Can Small States Make a Difference? The Case of Iceland on the International Scene," President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson shares his perspective as the leader of a small country that was a founding member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Hosted by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, this Distinguished Speakers series event is part of Einaudi's work on Democratic Threats and Resilience.

The Energy Transition - Transformational Change to Build a Sustainable Future
Thursday, November 10th, 12:25pm to 1:15pm EST
165 Olin Hall

Decarbonizing our energy sector is one of the greatest challenges of our time. What does it mean to transition the energy sector? What are the pathways to make the transition and where are the critical "problems worth solving" to support and accelerate the transition? Join this presentation as Ryan Legg (GE Renewable Energy) addresses answers to these questions and highlights the role GE is playing in the generation and distribution of economical, sustainable and reliable energy.
Part of the Energy Engineering Seminar series, hosted by Professors Lindsay Anderson, David Hammer, and Max Zhang

Large Scale Solar Empowering New York Communities
Friday, November 11th, 12:25pm to 1:15pm EST
116 Upson Lounge

Solar energy has experienced massive growth since 2000, setting the stage for the future of this steadily expanding clean energy resource. EDF Renewables is accelerating this growth to help solve climate change, drive wellbeing, economic development, and help New York reach its 70% net-zero energy generation by 2030, and beyond! Come join us for an energizing conversation led by Stephane Desdunes (EDF Renewables) on what it takes to get the optimal solar project online, gain community support, combine agriculture and solar energy, careers in solar, and how you could find a future in solar!
Part of the Energy Engineering Seminar series, hosted by Professors Lindsay Anderson, David Hammer, and Max Zhang

Advancing Sustainability Through Systems Analysis: Decision-making under Uncertainty
Friday, November 11th, 12:15pm to 1:15pm EST
Zoom, 253 Rhodes Hall

Life cycle assessment has been widely used in engineering systems for resource and environmental impacts analysis. Join Rui Shi (Penn State) as she proposes an agile LCA framework to characterize the environmental impacts of engineering systems across a landscape of scenarios and contexts under uncertainty.
Part of the Ezra's Round Table Seminar Series, Systems Engineering

Featured Events

Cartooning for Climate
Tuesday, November 15th, 2:30pm to 4:30pm EST
144 Sibley | Sign-up today

Come to this fun interactive workshop designed for participants to visualize, craft, and display their own comics. Participants will create a comic strip around climate change to narrate the state of the world, while exploring comical styles and aesthetics.
Hosted by Swathi Suvarna, Sumanth Krishna, and the Campus Sustainability Office

Stand Up for Climate Change
Friday, November 18th, 3:00pm to 4:00pm EST
Zoom | Register here

Join us for a creative comedy workshop, where you will learn ways to develop sketch comedy or stand-up acts to perform live. You will be introduced to a variety of storytelling tools for sharing climate change research and science with the world in a way that is engaging, informative, and exciting.
Hosted by the Campus Sustainability Office

Our Changing Menu with Michael Hoffmann and Danielle Eiseman
Wednesday, November 30th, 12:00pm to 1:00pm EST
Webinar Registration | *New date*

Join us for a discussion with Michael Hoffmann and Danielle Eiseman, authors of the new book, "Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need." Our Changing Menu is a celebration of food and a call to action―encouraging readers to join with others from the common ground of food to help tackle the greatest challenge of our time. Come prepared to consider how we can start a climate change social movement using food – we all eat.
Hosted by the Campus Sustainability Office

Partner Events

How to Launch Your Public Service Career Through Professional Fellowships
Wednesday, November 16th, 4:00pm EST

Join Dr. Vicki Johnson '01 (ProFellow Founder) to learn what funded, merit-based professional fellowships are, how to find a wide range of professional and summer fellowships that will help you achieve your career goals, key tips for the competitive application process, and how a professional fellowship can help you launch your career in social impact. The webinar is designed for students and graduates seeking paid, full-time professional fellowships.
Hosted by the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement & Cornell Career Services

Screening of "The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland"
Wednesday, November 16th, 10:00am to 5:00pm EST
Johnson Museum of Art, Nov 16-Dec 18
The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland
pivots between an animated vision of a toxic world and promotional videos from multinational behemoths. The installation’s “presentfictional” world reengineers colonial displacement. Here, only the Indigenous people of Australia are capable of surviving the future of poisoned lands and seascapes that threaten the Europeans who are described as being incapable of existing outdoors for long periods of time.
Part of the 2022 Cornell Biennial, sponsored by the Cornell Council for the Arts and curated by Timothy Murray, the 2022 Cornell Biennial "Futurities, Uncertain" features exhibition, installations, and performances.

Global Grand Challenges Symposium: Frontiers and the Future
Wednesday, November 16th, 4:30pm to 7:30pm​ EST
Thursday, November 17th, 8:00am to 5:00pm EST
Virtual and in-person options

​​​​​​How will we meet the most pressing demands of our time? Join us for a two-day symposium that brings together the Cornell community and international partners to discuss the most urgent challenges around the world and how we can work together to address them. Building on the first Global Grand Challenge, Migrations, symposium participants will help identify the next university-wide research, teaching, and engagement initiative to harness Cornell's global expertise.
Hosted by Global Cornell

Sustainable Clothing Care
Thursday, November 17th, 7:30pm to 8:30pm EST
Mews Hall

Join Dr. Lori Leonard (Faculty-in-Residence of Mews & Loving House) and the Campus Sustainability Office for a clothing upcycling workshop, sustainable laundry discussion, and clothing swap! Free wool dryer balls for all attendees.
Sponsored by North Campus Faculty in Residences, as part of the Getting Cornell to Net Zero Carbon Emissions series

Cornell Energy Connection 2022
Friday, November 18th, 10:00am to 4:30pm EST
Cornell Tech Campus

Join the 13th annual Cornell Energy Connection at the Cornell Tech campus in NYC! Topics will include the hydrogen, energy storage, critical minerals, the inflation reduction act and more. All students, faculty, and professionals interested in the energy transition are welcome.
Hosted by the Cornell Energy Club, the Cornell Student Chapter of the Society of Economic Geologists, and the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise

Creative Writing and Art Competition
Deadline: November 18th
Students are invited to share essays, poetry, and art that centers on how migration shapes life in their communities. Submissions are encouraged to show the connections between racism, dispossession, and migration in interdisciplinary, innovative, and impactful ways. Six awards of $1,000 are made annually.
Sponsored by the Migrations: A Global Grand Challenge initiative with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Just Futures Initiative

Ithaca Rally for Climate, Jobs, and Justice
Friday, November 18th, 5:00pm to 6:00pm EST
Thompson Park

Join Climate Justice Cornell and members of the local community to help launch NY Renew's newest bill package for Climate, Jobs, and Justice.
Hosted by Climate Justice Cornell

Screening of "The Territory" followed by post-screening discussion with film producer Will Miller & Cornell Faculty
Tuesday, November 29th, 4:45pm - 8:00pm EST
Cornell Cinema, Willard Straight Hall Theater

THE TERRITORY follows the vital, inspiring fight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of Brazil to defend their land from non-Indigenous farmers intent on colonizing their protected territory in the Amazon rainforest. Co-produced by the Uru-eu-wau-wau community, the film draws on intimate access to both the Indigenous perspective and the farmers who want their land to chronicle a conflict that has profound implications for the survival of a people and the planet. Watch the trailer via National Geographic.
Part of this year's Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) 60th Anniversary (1961-2021) Celebration

Our Changing Menu with Michael Hoffmann and Danielle Eiseman
Wednesday, November 30th, 12:00pm to 1:00pm EST
Webinar Registration | *New date*

Join us for a discussion with Michael Hoffmann and Danielle Eiseman, authors of the new book, "Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need." Our Changing Menu is a celebration of food and a call to action―encouraging readers to join with others from the common ground of food to help tackle the greatest challenge of our time. Come prepared to consider how we can start a climate change social movement using food – we all eat.
Hosted by the Campus Sustainability Office

Cornell Energy Drawdown

Looking to drawdown your carbon footprint at home or on campus? Here are three easy ways to make a greater impact.

Check out the Cornell Energy Dashboard to see which buildings and units are saving the most energy.
Talk with your friends, family, and colleagues about what you're doing to reduce energy.

99% of Cornell students care about sustainability, according to recent Mission Sustainability surveys. Be empowered to discuss climate change & sustainability issues with those around you. Share how you plan to take action, and brainstorm ideas together. Your actions, and your words, make a difference.

Get someone you know to participate in Climate Action Week.

Maximize your impact by getting others involved. Invite your friends or colleagues to join you for an upcoming tour of campus energy facilities, or host an event encourage energy conservation where you live or work.

Visualize our collective impact on the Energy Dashboard.

Check out Cornell's Energy Dashboard to see real-time heating, cooling, and electricity use of Cornell's campus buildings. Find out how your building is performing today and over time, and consider ways to reduce your daily energy consumption.

Save Energy on Campus

Take high-impact actions to save the greatest energy and carbon emissions.

The Cornell University Energy Management Team and the Campus Sustainability Office teamed up to study real-time campus data on energy use, and combine this with leading behavior-change science. Together, we identified three, high-impact energy-saving actions to take where you live, work, and learn.

Learn more about Cornell's Greenhouse Gas Inventory and our efforts to reduce campus-wide energy consumption through our Energy Conservation Initiative.

Top Three Actions:

  • 2. Take a shorter shower, with lower temperature

  • Save 1.5 kWh for every min you shorten a hot shower and lower the water temperature. Even shaving one minute off counts - imagine if everyone in your residential community did it!
  • 3. Wash full loads of laundry, always use cold water

  • Save 1.5 kWh by washing full loads of laundry using cold water only.  Did you know the laundry machines on campus are designed to clean your clothes effectively on the cold-wash cycle?
  • Why do these actions matter?

    The best way to reduce your energy use in Cornell's residential buildings is to reduce hot water use and manage your plug load carefully.

  • Cornell produces our power on campus, which means energy is wasted when we heat water that isn't used efficiently. By lowering your water temperature in the shower and laundry room, and reducing the overall amount of time you're running water, you're reducing the amount of energy needed to heat up all that water. If every student who lives on campus reduces their hot water usage by 3 minutes a day this action alone could save 1.2 million kWh every month.

    Plug loads and vampire loads are major energy users in residential buildings. Even when "turned off" most devices like TVs, DVD/Blu-Ray players, video game consoles, and cell phone chargers are drawing energy. By grouping those items together, plugging them into a power strip, and turning off the power strip before you leave your room or go to sleep --- you could save around 15-20 kWh per week, which over the course of the year is the equivalent of carbon sequestered by 1.5 acres of forest.

Top Three Actions:

  • 1. Reduce heating needs, lower temps 1-2 degrees

  • Set your room temperature just 1-2 degrees cooler during the winter months to save 1% of your office's energy use.  Purchase a Cozy Toes heater for your feet to keep your body comfortable and reduce ambient heating needs.

  • 2. Keep windows closed

  • If air leaks cause 1/2 of home heat loss in the winter, imagine how much heat is lost from open windows in a building the size of an office, administrative building, or lab space on campus?  When the windows are left open, building energy performance systems can't  perform at their best, and may produce tons of unnecessary heating and cooling.

  • 3. Switch to a Smart Power Strip (and turn it off)

  • Save ~15% of your office's energy use by plugging items into a power strip and turning it off before leaving work. In your own work space, be sure to plug your items into a power strip and turn it off before leaving. No power strip? Simply unplug your electronics instead. Check out our guide to purchasing a smart power strip.

  • Why do these actions matter?

    The best way to reduce your energy use in Cornell's offices and administrative spaces is to control your temperature, take care of your windows, and manage your plug load carefully.

    By lowering the temperature set points in your office and reporting heating/cooling issues to facilities ASAP, you're helping Cornell document and prioritize efficiency updates or building malfunctions that may be causing unnecessary energy use. In addition, make sure all radiators are clear of books, tables, and belongings since radiators cannot work properly without convection.

    During cold weather months, taking care of your windows is key. You want to keep cold air out and warm air in. First, ask facilities staff to remove window A/C units to help seal up your space. Then, keep windows closed to avoid ramping up the building's heating system to accommodate the heat escaping from the open windows. Next, close shades and curtains at night to keep warm air in, and reopen them during the day to maximize natural lighting and promote well-being in your space. Lastly, consider asking your facilities staff to install shrink wrap for older windows, which improves comfort and greatly improves energy efficiency.

  • Plug loads account for around 30% of an office's electricity use. Work with your team to set energy saver settings on copiers, computers, and monitors. Identify and unplug electronics that are no longer needed. "Vampire loads" account for about 10-25% of office energy use -- meaning items are still drawing power when not performing useful work (e.g. TVs, coffeemakers, plugged in laptops (fully charged), desktop computers in sleep mode, microwaves).

Top Three Actions:

  • 1. Shut the Sash

  • Reduce your lab's air ventilation by 2/3 by shutting the sash every time it's not in use.  Did you know fume hoods account for half of all campus energy use?

  • 2. Exit the Lab

  • Cut your lab's energy use in 1/2 when you leave the room vacant and let the lab kick into a preset vacancy mode.  The savings are huge!  Step outside for lunch, for a break, and use common spaces in the buildings for meetings.

  • 3. Raise Freezer Temps

  • Identify cold storage in your lab that isn't being used, or doesn't need to be at maximum low temperatures. Achieve big energy savings by raising temperatures in ultra-low freezers from -80C to -70C. Check out resources from the Freezer Challenge, including evidence that -70C is a safe temperature to store many samples.

  • Why do these actions matter?

    Cornell's biggest energy users are our lab buildings.  Over half of total campus energy use comes from lab spaces - specifically, laboratory ventilation.

    The best ways to reduce energy use in Cornell's lab buildings are to lower fume hood sashes, exit labs and work outside labs whenever possible, and proactively manage ultra-low freezers.

    Laboratory ventilation is responsible for about HALF OF ALL ENERGY USE on campus. That's huge. One fume hood = 3 households' annual energy usage, and we have thousands of fume hoods on campus. Ventilation keeps us safe, but we need your help to reduce wasteful ventilation in fume hoods.

  • First, close the fume hood sash every time it's not in use to reduce air ventilation by 2/3. Since occupancy sensors cannot kick the lab into 'unoccupied mode' when a fume hood is open, this action is especially critical in reducing a lab's energy use. Second, hibernate your fume hoods anytime they will be unused for 2-3 weeks or longer.

  • This saves 200 kWh per week per hood ($100 per week, $5000 per year, based on 5ft hood). Email to take the fume hood out of service within 48 hours and to restore it within 48 hours. No charge, no problem.

  • Cornell labs are equipped with occupancy sensors that can kick labs into ventilation and lighting 'vacancy modes' once they are unoccupied (and fume hoods are closed), so one of the best things you can do is simply exit the lab and work, eat, and meet outside of labs whenever possible.Labs can achieve huge energy savings by raising temperatures in ultra-low freezers from -80C to -70C.