Carnegie Mellon University Climate Pledge-Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research - Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University signs Climate Pledge

As a leading global university in research and education to advance sustainability and energy innovation and a consistent top 10 institution in the U.S. EPA green power partnership, Carnegie Mellon University has demonstrated leadership in its own practices to address climate change. We are therefore pleased to join with other members of the university community and to answer President Obama’s challenge.

Practice

  • Promote a high standard for environmental practices through CMU’s “Scotty Goes Green” program. This program will engage CMU faculty and staff in a voluntary, self-guided initiative that guides offices through three levels of certification: bronze, silver, and gold with a pre- and post-audit. A tool kit provides a checklist of actions, a how-to guide, and a commuter calculator. This activity to conserve water, save energy, minimize waste, and save money supports the Pittsburgh Climate Action plan.

Public and Academic Education

  • Enhance public education through Energy Bite, a weekly 90-second radio spot focused on energy technology, opportunities, and challenges related to everyday life. Each episode, co-produced by CMU’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation and 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR station, is distributed nationally via the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). Each Energy Bite episode features interviews with CMU experts on topics of interest to the public such as how to conserve energy in their homes, whether or not to buy an electric car, and how much of our power could be generated by renewable energy.
  • Work to ensure that CMU graduates are “climate literate.” The CMU Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, with support from Richard and Jordan Landers, is developing course modules on climate that will first be woven into all chemical engineering courses, providing a model for other courses throughout the campus. The modules, relevant to the curricular objectives of the host courses, will constitute a coherent course called “Climate for Chemical Engineers,” and will utilize structured programming and effective presentation of data through the engineering programming language Matlab.
  • Conduct a Deliberative Democracy event as part of CMU’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation’s Energy Week. During this event, CMU energy experts will first inform the public about the pros and cons of various energy sources for electricity. The public will then deliberate to reach consensus on the optimal energy mix to serve the state of Pennsylvania’s energy needs. A similar question will be discussed in middle and high school classrooms across the state using educational videos developed by the Scott Institute and an online calculator developed by the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making's SUCCEED program, that educates teachers and students about climate change.
  • Expand the public’s and student’s perspective of climate and energy-related issues throughout CMU’s Energy Week from March 14-18, 2016. Activities include discussion of research, innovation, and policy issues; roundtables on energy innovation, energy workforce, and industrial energy efficiency; and field trips to energy efficient buildings, renewable energy facilities, and other sites that will illustrate the variety of energy technologies in the Pittsburgh region.

Innovation

  • Support the development of new energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies by supporting the next generation of energy innovators in the Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize Collegiate Competition. The March 16, 2016 contest, sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office and CMU’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, will award a $50,000 prize to the winning student team from the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, or Maryland.

Research

  • Support research on climate and energy decision making through the National Science Foundation sponsored Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM) program. CEDM develops and promulgates new and innovative, behaviorally and technically informed insights involving the intersection points between climate and energy. It also generates methods to frame, analyze, and assist key stakeholders in addressing important decisions regarding climate change and the necessary transformation of the world’s energy system. 
  • Enhance understanding of the chemistry and physics of new-particle formation throughout the current and pre-industrial atmosphere as part of CERN’s CLOUD research consortium. This research is focused on determining the change in atmospheric particle number concentration between the pre-industrial era and the present day in order to better determine the sensitivity of climate to changes in CO2.
  • Sponsor, through seed grants and Presidential fellowships, research projects that address climate ranging from enhancing local involvement to improving global understanding. The Scott Institute for Energy Innovation is also creating new tools and technologies that will support dramatic energy efficiency gains in buildings, the integration of renewable sources into electrical energy systems, and climate and energy decisions by government policy makers. At the same time, it is developing new models to transfer and commercialize new energy technologies that will move us toward a low carbon future.
  • Develop a decision support tool linking effective climate and air pollution policy at the local level is part of a broader engagement with the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan and involvement by Pittsburgh in the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Initiative. 
  • Work with city leaders, foundations and industry through CMU’s Metro 21 Initiative and as a member of the MetroLab Network announced at the White House earlier this year to accelerate the deployment of technologies to improve the energy efficiency and environment quality of cities. The goal of Metro21 is to implement “smart city” strategies to increase the efficiency of urban infrastructure and learn from and partner with other cities via the Network. Examples of potential strategies include introducing LED lighting, “smart traffic light corridors” that manage flow in real time, as well as other predictive tools to help cities manage traffic flow and energy demand, can lower the overall carbon emissions a city generates.
  • Launch an innovative collaboration through CMU’s School of Architecture, Project RE to help preserve natural resources through the reuse of construction materials and offer job training opportunities for individuals re-entering society. This continues a decades-long commitment to advocate for community engagement in environmental design and sustainability.