Uniqueness of Plan
What Makes Princeton's Plan Different?
One of the key features of the Sustainability Plan is the greenhouse gas reduction target.
Princeton has committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 even as the campus grows.
Achieving this goal will prevent 75,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere in 2020 and in each subsequent year - yielding the highest direct environmental impact of any objective in the plan.
The University proposes to reach this goal through activities on campus rather than through off-campus mitigation projects such as "offsets."
The purchase of emissions offsets - investment in emissions-reduction activities such as planting trees in this country or abroad - is a feature frequently included in other sustainability plans.
Purchasing offsets, in essence, gives the purchaser the right to continue emitting greenhouse gases; in theory, the money expended to purchase the offsets would pay the costs of reducing emissions elsewhere in the world.
Instead, Princeton will impose a voluntary "CO2 tax" when conducting cost-benefit analysis to determine whether a given energy conservation measure should be included in a new building project.
Adding this cost factor to its decision-making gives the university a way to recognize the impact of CO2 emissions and could lead planners to adopt emission reduction designs and technologies that would not otherwise be considered.
Princeton believes that it has a responsibility to improve its ongoing operations.
Because this goal depends on the emergence of new technologies, innovation with existing technologies, and behavioral change, the University cannot predict how it will fully achieve the target (bar chart).
However, by serving as a laboratory for the development of new technologies and practices, the University not only contributes to and exemplifies the range of behaviors needed to achieve a sustainable society, it also trains students to be good environmental citizens in the future.