Climate Education Initiative (CEI) Current Projects

In the 2008 National Wildlife Federation report "Higher Education in a Warming World: The Business Case for Climate Leadership on Campus," UNH figures prominently among the 100-plus schools cited for responding to global warming with best-practice strategies. UNH is the only New Hampshire institution featured in the report.

Alliance for Resilient Campuses

In 2014, UNH became a Founding Signatory to the Alliance for Resilient Campuses (ARC)UNH is committed to incorporating climate resilience into our operations and principles as an institution of higher education as part of this collaborative network.


Climate Solutions New England (CSNE)

Climate Solutions New England (CSNE) is a public-private partnership to integrate science, technology, and policy within a sustainability framework to address the challenge of regional carbon neutrality as part of a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. CSNE will unite partners from the public and private sectors to build a clean energy future for New England while sustaining its unique natural and cultural resources for future generations. CSNE will focus New England’s formidable intellectual and entrepreneurial capabilities on the development of a clean energy future that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while increasing our resilience and adaptive capacity to a changing climate. Ultimately, this program will provide a regional model of collaboration and cooperation for sustainable development that will serve as a resource for other national and international efforts. CSNE will be coordinated by the University of New Hampshire, a leader in Earth system and environmental science and sustainability.

Climate Fellows

In 2008, Clean Air-Cool Planet created the Climate Fellows program to address a recurring program: even best-intentioned partners—whether in the community, campus or corporate sector—could easily be thwarted in their sustainability goals by a lack of “person-power” necessary to conduct inventories, research and write climate action plans, or carry out other high priority climate-related rojects. Lacking any better option, many opted to assign these tasks to a busy voluntee, or a staff person already working at full capacity—and, all too often, that meant a loss of momentum or even abandonment of a climate project. In 2014, the Sustainability Institute at UNH became the new home of the Climate Fellows program. The program matches exceptional college students from diverse backgrounds with high priority climate solutions projects. Through this nationally advertised and highly competitive program, students receive skills training, mentoring, networking opportunities, and a stipend for full-time summer projects undertaken with a wide range of partner organizations.

Cogeneration & Landfill Gas

In 2006, UNH's combined heat and power facility - or cogeneration (COGEN) plant - went online. The primary source of heat and electricity for the five-million square foot Durham campus, COGEN retains waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and instead uses this energy to heat buildings, in turn reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. UNH's COGEN cost an estimated $28 million -- all self-financed -- with an anticipated payback within 20 years and resulted in an estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 21% in AY2006 compared to AY 2005. In 2009 and in partnership with Waste Management of New Hampshire, Inc., UNH began using processed landfill gas from the EcoLine project, a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses methane gas from a nearby landfill as the primary fuel for the COGEN plant. The methane is the primary fuel to operate the university’s cogeneration plant, which provides electricity and heat for the main campus buildings. UNH is the first university in the country to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source. When fully operational, EcoLine will provide up to 85% of the campus energy from the landfill gas EcoLine cost an estimated $49 million - all internally-funded - with an anticipated payback within 10 years of the project. Both the cogeneration plant and the landfill gas projects were financed by the campus through borrowing. No student fees or state funding is being used. What's more, UNH will sell the renewable energy certificates (RECs) associated with EcoLine to help finance the capital costs of the project and to invest in additional energy efficiency projects on campus. EcoLine and selling RECs are part of UNH's aggressive climate action plan called “WildCAP.”

Curriculum Related to Climate and Energy

UNH has a wide variety of curricula focused on climate change impacts and mitigation, including the following undergraduate and graduate courses: ChE 410 Energy and the Environment; ESCI 405 Global Environmental Change; ESCI 514 Introduction to Climate; ESCI 815 Global Atmospheric Chemistry; ESCI 764/864 Introductory Paleoclimate Analysis; ESCI 862 Paleoclimatology; NR 415 Global Biological Change; and NR 767/867 Earth System Science, among others.

  • Global Environmental Change (ESCI 405): In the last six years, over 750 students have taken Earth Sciences 405: Global Environmental Change, an interdisciplinary undergraduate course in which students study the relationships among global environmental change, climate, and health, and meet with campus administrators to develop greenhouse gas reduction recommendations. Students spend the final one-third of the course participating in the "Search for Sustainability" that includes interviewing UNH administrators and staff from across campus and then conducting a role-play negotiation of a Kyoto Protocol-style agreement to reduce UNH greenhouse gas emissions. The students who acts as facilitators of these negotiations then collate and present the entire classes’ top emissions reduction recommendations to the UNH Energy Task Force (ETF) for the ETF to consider implementing campus-wide.
  • Climate Change and Health (PHP 930) and Disease Ecology (PHP 932): These core courses are part of the UNH Master's of Public Health program in the UNH School of Health and Human Services. The "Climate Change and Health" course helps MPH develop an understanding of the climate system and the impact of climate change on public health. The "Disease Ecology" course explores the epidemiological significance of the processes linking the climate system with ecological and social systems that influence the interaction between humans and disease agents.
  • 2006-2007 Discovery Program University Dialogue on Energy

Energy Efficiency Fund

Launched in 2009 with a $650,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), UNH’s Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) has already seen more than $200,000 in energy savings “returns.” UNH’s Energy Task Force estimates that after a decade, the university will realize about $3 million in energy savings and prevent more than 8,500 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases from being emitted -- the equivalent of over 1,600 passenger vehicles or 19,000 barrels of oil. In 2011, UNH joined 32 other colleges and universities to launch a national challenge to invest in revolving funds that finance energy efficiency upgrades on campus. Called the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, the effort is being coordinated by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. As part of the Founding Circle, UNH is the only public institution in New England to take the lead in making this commitment.


Energy Efficient Purchasing

Signed into policy in 2006 by the UNH Vice President for Research and Vice President of Finance and Administration, the UNH Energy Efficient Product Standard (PDF) strongly recommends that members the UNH community purchase products that meet the specifications of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program. Using ENERGY STAR products can save UNH faculty and staff up to 30% in energy costs with no loss in product quality. UNH offices and departments are encouraged to seek out ENERGY STAR products when purchasing new equipment and can find helpful information on doing so through the UNH Energy Office. The UNH Energy Efficient Product Standard was developed through the UNH Energy Task Force with representatives from USNH Purchasing Office, the UNH Energy Office, and the Sustainability Institute at UNH. The introduction of UNH’s new Energy Efficient Product Standard is part of the University’s larger commitment to expand current energy efficiency efforts into all aspects of UNH in order to reduce the energy costs and environmental impacts associated with campus operations. In addition, the reduced impact associated with this new standard compliments the design, operation, and maintenance standards that are in place or are being developed by the UNH Energy Task Force, UNH Campus Planning, UNH Transportation Services, the UNH University Office of Sustainability, and the UNH Energy Office.

For more information on UNH's energy efficiency efforts, visit the UNH Energy Office and the UNH Energy Task Force websites. Don't forget: you can sell, donate, or transfer to another UNH department your used computers, electronics, and other items through USNH Surplus!


ENERGY STAR® Showcase & Virtual Energy Efficient Dorm Rooms

Energy Star Showcase Dorm Room 2009: The energy consumed by individual residence hall rooms is the greatest growing energy cost on the UNH campus. In an effort to curb this trend, the University Office of Sustainability, ResLife, Housing, has partnered with Best Buy® Newington, NH, to showcase an ENERGY STAR® Dorm Room for prospective UNH students. The Energy Star Dorm Room is located in Congreve Hall and is outfitted with five Energy Star appliances including a compact refrigerator, a flat-screen TV, 2 laptops and a Blue Ray disc player. Energy Star qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10–50% less energy and water than standard models. Come check out the Energy Star Showcase Dorm Room during one of the UNH Open House dates and save 10% on all Energy Star qualified appliances from Best Buy, Newington with proof of enrollment!

Virtual Energy Efficient Dorm Room: Check out our virtual energy efficient dorm room with suggestions and information on all kinds of products for your room! CLICK HERE. 

Engagement Related to Climate and Energy

UNHSI often supports speakers, events, and other happenings related to climate and energy! For example, we helped bring Kathryn Blume's "The Boycott" to campus in April 2007. Co-sponsored by the 2006-2007 Discovery Program University Dialogue on Energy, the UNH Department of Theatre and Dance, MUB Programming, UNH Residential Life, WildACT, Mask & Dagger, and the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), "The Boycott" is a one-woman show depicting a U.S. First Lady staging a sex boycott to fight global warming and save the world!


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

In the winter of 2000, UOS partnered with Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP), an action oriented advocacy group that seeks to reduce the threat of climate change by engaging organizations and institutions in all sectors of civil society, to develop a greenhouse gas emission inventory that adapted national and international inventory methodologies to the unique scale and character of a university community. Data have been reported from 1990-2003 (PDF), and a 2004-2005 update (PDF) was released in September 2006. In 2005, UOS and CA-CP partnered again to improve the calculator (creating version 4.1) and its associated support materials, including an updated user guide and a list of frequently asked questions. Over 2,300 institutions have downloaded the calculator! UNH is committed to updating its greenhouse gas emissions inventory series regularly in order to comply with the American University and College Presidents Climate Commitment, capture institutional progress in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and inform the decision-making of the university, especially that of the UNH Energy Task Force.

Power Management & Power Down

UNH strives to promote educational and outreach programs intended to increase awareness of and behaviors around energy use, efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change. Examples of this include:

  • Power down educational campaigns over Thanksgiving and winter breaks: The UNH Energy Task Force, UNH Energy Office, and UNH University Office of Sustainability encourage all faculty, staff, and students to power down - turn off and unplug all computers, TV's and other electronics, printers and other office equipment, and more - when away from offices, residence halls, or apartments and homes for nights, weekends, and breaks. By turning off and unplugging computers, printers, fax machines, cell phone chargers, and other equipment and electronics - or by turning off the power strip into which they are plugged - you’ll save energy, lower energy bills, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions! By "powering down" for the 2008 Thanksgiving holiday break, UNH faculty, staff, and students saved more than $10,000 in energy costs and emissions reductions equivalent to 70 barrels of oil or not driving five passenger cars for one year. Learn more...
  • Use of computer power management: Computer power management settings are used in 205 computers in UNH Student Computing Clusters. Combined with using LCD monitors (which typically use 34 watts when active instead of the 73 watts used by CRT monitors) in the computer systems purchased in 2004, in FY05 monitor power management in these clusters saved approximately $10,778 in energy costs and prevented 51 MTCDE from being emitted. This energy savings is the equivalent of taking 10 cars off the road or lighting 62 homes for one year.

UNH highly encourages all computer users to use power management on their computers. Learn how here!

Presidents Climate Commitment

"Signing the Presidents Climate Commitment naturally stems from our broader commitment to sustainability. It is part of our mission as an institution of higher education not only to engage in world-class research on such pressing issues as climate change – and to educate our students about these issues so they are prepared to engage in solutions – but also to lead by example."
UNH Interim President J. Bonnie Newman

In February 2007, UNH Interim President J. Bonnie Newman signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (AUPCC), adding UNH to the leadership circle of colleges and universities committed to climate neutrality, significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and education and research on climate change. UNH is the first New England land-grant university to sign the Commitment and in a leading group of more than 60 colleges and univerisities in the nation to sign.

"UNH is the first public land-grant university in New England to sign the commitment, demonstrating once again the university's long-standing leadership in sustainability," said Anthony Cortese, president of Second Nature, a research institute dedicated to education and sustainability, and co-creator of the Presidents Climate Commitment. "We are thrilled to have UNH on board."

Presidents signing the Commitment are pledging to eliminate their campuses’ greenhouse gas emissions over time and ultimately to achieving climate neutrality. This involves creating an institutional structure to guide the development and implementation of climate neutrality, completing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, setting a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral, taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – such as providing access to public transportation or adopting an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy – and integrating sustainability into the curriculum. Under the guidance and direction of the leadership circle, the Commitment is being supported and implemented by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), of which UNH is a member, Second Nature, and ecoAmerica.

Sustainable Buildings

UNH is committed to being as sustainable as feasible in its construction and renovation of buildings. As part of the Presidents Climate Commitment, UNH-Durham is committed to having all new campus construction and major renovation projects achieve U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards or equivalent; this policy will be applicable to all new projects initiated after UNH design and construction building standards have been modified in 2008. UNH’s comprehensive approach targets high impact intervention areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as impacts on biodiversity and cultural continuity. Ranked by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (PDF) in the top 5% of universities in its peer group for energy efficiency and by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers in a 2006 survey of over 100 universities as one of the most energy efficient four-year colleges with graduate programs through the post-doctoral level, UNH has conducted an on-going energy efficiency program for over 30 years. And in May 2006, UNH was the first institution of higher education in the nation to receive ENERGY STAR ratings for residence halls. We now have eight U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR buildings! And the upcoming renovations of DeMerrit Hall and James Hall, two of our major science buildings, will stand as models of sustainable renovation - much as the renovation of the University Office of Sustainability did in 1999. The James Hall Renovation has been officially registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to seek LEED Certification.

Sustainable Transportation

Under a framework of Transportation Demand Management (TDM), which seeks to reduce our use of single occupancy vehicles, UNH takes a holistic approach to transportation that includes expanded free transit services, increased on-campus housing, development of improved transit and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, support of the Amtrak Downeaster regional rail service, GoLoco ridesharing services*, and ongoing educational and information programs aimed at providing expanded mobility without private vehicle use. Designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation as a “Best Workplace for Commuters” in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, UNH actively works with the state department of transportation and regional MPO to coordinate transit and intermodal transportation activities, and is a critical player in the regional transit system.

UNH Energy Task Force

The UNH Energy Task Force (ETF) was established in the fall of 2005. Chaired by the UNH Vice President for Research and coordinated by the UNH Office of Sustainability and the UNH Energy Office, the ETF has faculty, administrative, staff, and both undergraduate and graduate student members from a wide variety of departments and offices on campus. The ETF serves in an advisory capacity to the UNH President and is responsible for making recommendations on the full range of issues that relate to energy use, including generation, demand management, efficiency, conservation, greenhouse gas mitigation policy and action, and participation in markets related to energy and carbon. Recommendations are formulated taking into account the teaching, research, and public service missions of the University and its long-range Campus Master Plan, UNH’s signing of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (PCC), and the energy needs of faculty, staff, students, and campus visitors. The overarching goal of the ETF is to guide the university toward a systemic and integrated energy policy that emphasizes health and integrity, climate protection and carbon neutrality, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and stability, fairness for all University constituents, consistency with priorities set by the Academic Plan and the Master Plan, and a focus on both the supply and demand characteristics of energy use. In particular, the ETF is charged with: (1) developing immediate and future actions to reduce energy costs and improve energy conservation through technological improvements, increases in efficiency, reductions in waste, and selection of fuels at the Durham campus, and (2) inventorying and promoting educational and outreach programs intended to increase awareness of and behaviors around energy use, efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change.

UNH Transportation Policy Committee (TPC)

The UNH Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) serves in an advisory capacity to the UNH President, making recommendations on the full range of issues that relate to transportation management at UNH, including parking policy and transit services. Chaired by the UNH Vice President of Finance & Administration and comprised of members from across the entire campus, the overarching goal of the TPC is to guide the university toward a systemic transportation system that is consistent with priorities set by the UNH Academic Plan and the UNH Campus Master Plan and that maximizes mobility and accessibility in a climate education framework that emphasizes health and safety, efficiency, cost effectiveness, equity, and sustainability.

UNH Unplugged

Since the fall 2006, UNH has held a student energy challenge for all on-campus students to help the university lower greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. Sstudent organizations and volunteers work with many staff partners (UNHSI, UNH Energy Task Force, UNH Residential Life and the UNH Department of Housing) to educate their fellow students about the importance of addressing climate change and easy steps they can take to save energy every day. (Learn more...)

Fall 2010 Results! In the fall of 2010, UNH competed in a national campus energy competition for the first time! The Campus Conservation Nationals is a nationwide competition that challenges college campuses to achieve the greatest electricity reductions in their residence halls during a 3-week period. Hubbard Hall was the top saving UNH residence hall or apartment on campus, saving an incredible 3,232 kilowatt hours of electricity! From November 1-19, 2010, residents of Hubbard Hall reduced their electricity use 15.9% compared to their baseline period measured from October 15-31. As an award for their efforts, Hubbard’s students received the coveted Student Energy Challenge Trophy and “Sustainable UNH” t-shirts. Learn more...

Fall 2009 Results! In Fall 2009, UNH Area 2 -- which includes Alexander, Devine, Engelhardt, Fairchild, Gibbs, Hetzel, Hitchcock, Hunter, Mills and Randall Halls -- won the Challenge. Students in Area 2 used 30 kilowatt hours less energy per person during the month of October than the next ranked area. This is the same as 60,000 kilowatt hours of savings and 43 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents or 100 barrels of oil. Within Area 2, Hetzel Hall had the lowest energy usage over the course of the competition. (Equivalency calculations were made using the U.S. Climate Technolgoy Cooperation Gateway's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.)

WildCAP - UNH's Climate Action Plan

Through our campus-wide Energy Task Force, UNH is developing a a climate action plan called "WildCAP" to reduce UNH’s greenhouse gas emissions in fulfillment of the requirements of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The plan will be developed and in place by November 2009. The goals are to:

  • Maximize emissions reductions as soon as possible to reduce climate impacts.
  • Maximize cost savings through reduced energy consumption.
  • Develop a plan with broad-based support across the UNH community to ensure smooth implementation, willingness to invest in energy saving projects, and participation in energy-saving behavioral changes.
  • Maintain UNH’s leadership position in campus climate action.
  • Develop opportunities to highlight UNH climate action to internal and external stakeholders and funders.
  • Integrate operational and behavior savings efforts with existing or new curricula and research where possible.

Under WildCAP, UNH will cut its greenhouse gas emissions:

  • 50% by 2020
  • 80% by 2050 on the road to carbon neutrality by 2100
  • To ensure we meet these targets, UNH commits to an average reduction of 3% per year.