Chatham University

Student Preparedness

As a charter signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Chatham is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2025. Since signing in 2007, enrollment and building square footage have increased 45% and 36%, respectively; yet during this rapid growth, we have decreased our Scopes 1+2+3 emissions by 7%.  Our Climate Committee (students, staff, and faculty) supports university sustainability and climate action goals through research, reduction projects and outreach initiatives.

Students elected by peers as ‘eco reps’ acclimate new arrivals to sustainable campus life.  Bi-weekly newsletters inform students on sustainability happenings and competitions (RecycleMania and Energy Challenge), sustainability-oriented careers, and events featuring sustainability professionals.

Sustainability-focused courses offered across disciplines represent Chatham’s belief that sustainability is a responsibility we all share. Our School of Sustainability and the Environment is one of the first such schools in the country. Other sustainability-focused programs include interior and landscape architecture and an MBA in sustainable business.

Our programming, infrastructure, and educational initiatives have led to observable behavior change among students. A robust composting program compliments a successful school–wide single–stream-recycling program.

Implemented last year, a printing-reduction program reduced Chatham’s carbon footprint by 1400 pounds of CO2. Eliminating the use of trays in 2009 has resulted in a significant reduction of energy and food waste.

A leader in biking initiatives, Chatham was recognized as Pennsylvania’s first Bike Friendly University and has an on-campus student-operated bike shop. Chatham partners with nonprofits GurlBike and Free Ride to teach more women bike repair and maintenance in order to support sustainable bike transportation in the city.

Climate Innovation

Chatham is one of the first universities to design a campus from the ground up to be an embodiment of sustainable principles, integrated sustainable development, and learning and living for the future.  Chatham has invested over $4 million to date, putting our institutional commitment to sustainability directly on the bottom line.  We just broke ground on the first phase, comprising $40 million of new and rehabilitated buildings including innovative net-zero energy strategies, aquaculture, storm water control, and on lot sanitary systems.

We have invested in an innovative, high-efficiency micro-channel solar thermal system on our two largest residence halls.  At 1270 square feet, it is one of the largest solar thermal hot water installations in the east, will last at least 25 years, and is ultimately completely recyclable. In just 1.5 years, the system has reduced the halls’ natural gas use 30%.

Creating Opportunity

Chatham is a supporting member of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative’s Higher Education Climate Consortium (HECC).  Pittsburgh’s institutions of higher education have accepted responsibility for leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the city’s climate reduction efforts.  Chatham’s sustainability coordinator co-chairs the consortium. Chatham co-sponsors Student Conservation Association Climate Fellows who gain experience conducting climate audits and outreach programs.

Chatham has purchased RECS since 2002 and now purchases Green-e RECS worth 100% of our electricity use.  The HECC schools are developing a system to make cooperative purchases of local RECs, leveraging our combined efforts for greater reductions.