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Campus Makes Strides on Sustainability Initiatives

From implementing initiatives as simple as purchasing more recycled paper to as complicated as reducing carbon emissions, the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus has taken the university’s sustainability initiatives to heart.

The campus’ successes are outlined in a report recently posted on the Johns Hopkins sustainability website. The campus was highlighted for purchasing 96 percent of its paper with recycled content, an 85 percent increase in recycled paper purchases from the previous year.

The Montgomery County Campus has “the best numbers when it comes to switching to recycled content paper for paper purchases,” said Ashley Pennington, senior program coordinator for JHU’s Office of Sustainability.

That achievement follows the campus’ success in reducing emissions. The Montgomery County Campus, when paired with the Washington, D.C. campus, had the highest percentage of emissions reductions compared with any other JHU site.

Under the direction of President William R. Brody, the JHU Office of Sustainability was formed in 2006, and the President’s Task Force on Climate Change was formed the following year.

“He decided during his tenure he wanted to weave (sustainability) into the identity and priorities of the institution,” Pennington said.

The task force’s mission was to develop recommendations on how Johns Hopkins should lower greenhouse gas emissions. A goal was set to reduce emissions 51 percent from 2008 levels by 2025.

Since 2008, the Montgomery County Campus has decreased total emissions by 44 percent, according to the newly released sustainability report.

According to the report:

  • The Montgomery County Campus bought 58 fewer cases of paper in fiscal year 2013 compared with fiscal year 2012.
  • The campus continues to use a water filtration system that directly filters tap water.
  • The campus transitioned from disposable kitchen cups to reusable cups.
  • Since 2008, the campus decreased electricity consumption by almost 17 percent and natural gas by consumption by almost 88 percent.

The numbers show that the Montgomery County Campus takes sustainability initiatives seriously, Pennington said. A small campus could say “we’re not the big problem. You could use it as a way to get out of jail free. But the campus has been really proactive. MCC is right there with the rest of our campuses, making sure you are playing your part accordingly.”

Johns Hopkins University is working to focus more academic, research and public health pursuits on sustainability and, Pennington said, to “change the course of the world from a sustainability perspective.”