University at Albany

Our Commitments

The University at Albany is committed to reaching climate neutrality by the late 21st century. We have made significant strides in achieving our goal, making public commitments in addition to adhering to state standards related to sustainability.

We Are Still In Declaration

In 2017, the University of Albany signed the We Are Still In Declaration, the pledge reads:

“We, the undersigned mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors are joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement. In December 2015 in Paris, world leaders signed the first global commitment to fight climate change. The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. In addition, nations - inspired by the actions of local and regional governments, along with businesses - came to recognize that fighting climate change brings significant economic and public health benefits. The Trump administration’s announcement undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change and damages the world’s ability to avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change. Importantly, it is also out of step with what is happening in the United States. In the U.S., it is local, tribal, and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt. In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, counties, tribes, colleges and universities, businesses and investors, representing a sizeable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions. It is imperative that the world know that in the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities, investors and businesses. Together, we will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to well below 2℃ and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.”


The Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments

In 2016, the University of Albany signed the The Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitment, for Carbon and Resilience the pledge reads:

“We, the undersigned presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities, believe firmly in the power, potential, and imperative of higher education’s key role in shaping a sustainable society. Not only are we deeply concerned about the increasing pace and intensity of global climate change and the potential for unprecedented detrimental impacts, but we also understand that technology, infrastructure, global interconnectedness, and our greatest asset – engaged, committed, smart students – allow us to explore bold and innovative solutions and to lead in climate action and sustainable solutions. We have begun to experience the effects of climate change in our communities and we understand that these effects are projected to become more severe and damaging. We recognize that mitigation and adaptation are complementary strategies for reducing the likelihood of unmanageable change, managing the risks, and taking advantage of new opportunities created by our changing climate. We believe colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by providing the knowledge, research, practice, and informed graduates to create a positive and sustainable future. Along with other aspects of sustainability, campuses that address the climate challenge by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by integrating resilience into their curriculum, research, and campus operations will better serve their students and meet their social mandate to help create a vital, ethical, and prosperous civil society. We further believe that exerting leadership in addressing climate change will reduce our long-term energy costs and the costs of climate disturbance, increase our quality of life, attract excellent students and faculty, and build the support of alumni and local communities. We have resolved to take action in one of the following Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments. We believe carbon neutrality and resilience are extremely high priority areas of action for all institutions and we aim to lead the nation in these efforts. We urge others to join us in transforming society towards a sustainable, healthy, and more prosperous future.”

American Campus Act on Climate Pledge

In 2015, the University of Albany signed the American Campus Act on Climate Pledge, the pledge reads:

“As institutions of higher education, we applaud the progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action as we seek a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health and are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low carbon future. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus.”

UN Higher Education Sustainability Initiative

In 2012, the University of Albany signed the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative, The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) was created as a partnership of UN entities (UNESCO, UN-DESA, UNEP, Global Compact, and UNU) in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). With a membership of almost 300 universities from around the world, HESI accounts for more than one-third of all the voluntary commitments that came out of Rio +20.

Talloires Declaration

In 2006, the University of Albany signed the Talloires Declaration, the first official statement made by university administrators commit to environmental sustainability in higher education. The Talloires Declaration is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by over 350 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries.

American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment

In May 2008, the University at Albany affirmed its responsibility by signing the the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

The ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by institutions of higher education with specific action steps and targeted time frames to complete goals. The commitment charges universities to develop an institutional infrastructure to support sustainability, conduct regular greenhouse gas emission inventories and devise a carbon neutral action plan. To date, over 670 institutions have signed on.

Climate Action Plan

The Climate Action Plan Report reviews the current progress towards carbon neutrality at the University at Albany and recommendations for achieving this goal. Click the icon below to access the report.

Strategic Planning

The University issued its Strategic Plan in Fall 2010 to re-affirmed its commitment to sustainability. Specifically, the University's goal to build upon and reconfigure our teaching, research, student life and support spaces in a manner compatible with our contemporary mission necessities investment in sustainable infrastructure. This course of action aligns with those goals outlined in "UAlbany and the Power of SUNY."

Chancellor Zimpher hosted several town halls across the state in the beginning of 2010 to gather input for the State University system wide strategic plan. In April 2010, this plan, entitled "The Power of SUNY" was unveiled. Energy and Sustainability appears as one of the "big, hairy, audacious goals."

New York State Executive Orders

Many executive orders signed by New York State Governors promote policies within state agencies and authorities to reduce consumption of materials and energy in an effort to reduce impacts on public health and the environment. All SUNY campuses therefore are required to comply with such guidelines. The Office of Environmental Sustainability, in partnership with departments across campus, ensure that we are reaching state goals.

Executive Order No. 88

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 88 on December 28, 2012, directing state agencies and authorities to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings. The order establishes a target of reducing average energy use intensity (EUI) in state-owned and managed buildings by 20% relative to a fiscal year 2010/2011 baseline by April 1, 2020.

Executive Order 2

In March 2008, Governor David A. Paterson issued Executive Order No. 2 directing the creation of a State Energy Plan stating that "...the development, implementation, and periodic review of a sensible comprehensive energy plan will enable the State to determine its future energy needs and facilitate a deliberate, efficient, and cost-effective means of meeting those needs."

In June 2008, New York State began a new statewide energy planning process, and on December, 2009, released the 2009 New York State Energy Plan.

Executive Order 2

Signed in 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 2 to reauthorized the follow Executive Orders related to energy savings and climate change:

Executive Order 4

Governor David Paterson signed Executive Order No. 4, which established a state green procurement and agency sustainability program with overarching goals that touch upon many different aspects of government operations. The order also requires state agencies to develop Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship programs that include specific projects designed to help the agency achieve compliance with the order and reduce environmental impacts.

Executive Order 18

Executive Order No. 18, signed by Governor David Paterson in 2009 , restricts the use of bottled water at state facilities and promotes the use of tap water as a preferable alternative.

Executive Order 24

In 2009, Governor Paterson established the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within the states by 80% below levels emitted in 1990 by 2050.

Executive Order 39

In 2010, Governor Paterson signed Executive Order No. 39 that established state policies to promote sustainable local farms and protects agricultural lands.

Executive Order 134

George Pataki signed Executive Order No. 134 that mandates that state agencies must purchase environmentally preferred cleaning products.

Executive Order 166

Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 166 that mandates a reduction of greenhouse gases by 40% BY 2030 and 80% by 2050.