Johns Hopkins University reached a pivotal milestone in its sustainability efforts, exceeding its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 51% by 2025—a goal that was achieved three years early now that a review of the university's 2022 greenhouse gas inventory is complete.
The early achievement of the goal, which was set in 2009 by the President's Taskforce on Climate Change, shows the university's commitment to ambitious climate action and advancing sustainability innovation broadly across the enterprise. The 2023 Annual Sustainability Report, recently released by the Office of Sustainability, details accomplishments in emission reductions, waste diversion, and community engagement over the past year, while keeping an eye toward the future. With the development of a new Climate Action and Sustainability Plan being released for public comment this coming fall, the university will continue to set ambitious goals to the end of the decade and beyond.
While the plan is still in development, Johns Hopkins has already made significant strides in its sustainability efforts. Since 2008, the university has seen a 57% reduction in carbon footprint and a 30% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2022. With more students, faculty, and staff returning to university campuses, waste production returned to pre-pandemic levels; however, waste diversion has remained steady, with 33% of the campus waste stream diverted to recycling or composting.
Director of culinary innovation
"While we realize the journey of our sustainability impact is just starting, we are committed to cultivating partnerships within our local community and supporting sustainable practices to be the best stewards of our environment."
The report also details a vision for the university's expanded sustainability practices, including the development of new green building standards for all new construction and major renovation projects. Sustainability will be increasingly embedded in the design process of all future construction projects, with technical requirements based on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification, or LEED, to ensure that projects take a holistic sustainability approach. The report also highlights the university's purchase of energy from the Skipjack Solar Center, which was completed in August 2022; the center produces 250,000 megawatt hours of power for Johns Hopkins each year and provides renewable power for two-thirds of the university's annual electric consumption, the largest agreement of its kind in the state of Maryland.
Sustainability was also a core focus of the university's transition to a self-operated dining model, which took place last year. The Hopkins Dining Program on the Homewood campus and Peabody Institute affords the university more agency in improving upon and implementing sustainability goals and practices, such as reducing food waste, sourcing environmentally sound ingredients, increasing plant-forward dining, and sourcing from local partners. Goals set forth by the Sustainable Food and Dining Working group of the Sustainability Leadership Council aim to increase equity and food security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food production and waste, and support local economies in Baltimore.
"While we realize the journey of our sustainability impact is just starting, we are committed to cultivating partnerships within our local community and supporting sustainable practices to be the best stewards of our environment and to fulfill our commitment to the Johns Hopkins community," says Hamilton Goss, the director of culinary innovation.
The report highlights an additional focus on the Baltimore community, noting Johns Hopkins' leadership role within the Baltimore Social-Environmental Collaborative-—a newly formed partnership of universities, local government agencies, community associations, non-governmental organizations, and Department of Energy National Labs, that focuses on a people-centered, interdisciplinary approach to climate action.
Additional research and academic developments noted in the report include the creation of CHARMED, a community-engaged environmental health research center; research projects out of the Applied Physics Laboratory that track greenhouse gas emissions and monitor air pollution; the creation of an interdisciplinary energy minor; and a new Product Stewardship for Sustainability Certificate Program offered by the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
To read the full report and learn more, visit the Sustainability website.