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Trustees hear update on Climate Action Planning Committee

Dec 1, 2022

Thomas A. Morrison, vice president for capital planning and facilities, presented an update on the work of the Indiana University Climate Action Planning Committee to the Board of Trustees during their December meeting.

The Climate Action Planning Committee includes students, faculty and staff. Photo by Eric Rudd, I... The Climate Action Planning Committee includes students, faculty and staff. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

IU President Pamela Whitten formed the committee in April to develop recommendations for short- and long-term opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on all IU campuses.

The committee, which includes IU students, faculty and staff, met continually throughout the summer and fall to study and research several topics including greenhouse gases; utilities; renewable energy and climate policy; finance and budget; philanthropy; transportation; space utilization; and diversity, equity, inclusion and climate justice. The committee members also studied plans and initiatives at other colleges and universities.

Several principles are guiding the committee’s work, including that the plan should:

  • Be complete, comprehensive and scientifically sound.
  • Enable immediate implementation where possible.
  • Contain requirements for financial resources along with funding sources and identified savings.
  • Include broad input from students, faculty and staff on all campuses.
  • Provide benchmarks, dashboards and transparency of process and progress.
  • Assess a target for carbon neutrality by 2040.

As the committee develops its current plan, two types of emissions will be measured and acted upon: Scope 1 and Scope 2. Scope 1 emissions are those that IU directly makes, such as producing steam heat from boilers or operating vehicles. Scope 2 emissions are indirect, such as purchased electricity. Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions resulting from assets not owned or controlled by IU, will not be included in the current plan but may be considered in future assessments.

To assist the committee, integrated design firm SmithGroup of Detroit began meeting with the committee to analyze, research and develop the plan in September.

“SmithGroup is a longtime partner of Indiana University, having developed master plans for both the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses,” Morrison said. “SmithGroup’s history with IU — along with its nationally recognized leadership in sustainable interdisciplinary design and experience in developing climate plans for colleges and universities — makes it an ideal partner to help IU responsibly reduce its carbon footprint.”

During the fall semester, SmithGroup and the committee hosted public forums on all IU campuses, as well as one virtual forum, to seek input from IU students, faculty and staff. The forums also assessed perceptions of what IU is currently doing to reduce carbon emissions, as well as potential opportunities and perceived challenges. This input will help the committee move forward with actionable objectives.

Additional on-campus presentations will take place during the spring semester to share the committee’s findings with the IU community. The schedule for these meetings is being determined and will be available at

SmithGroup will continue its analysis and plan development with the committee through the spring, culminating in submission of the committee’s plan to Whitten in April.

All IU students, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit the committee’s website to learn more about the committee’s research and view greenhouse gas emissions and utilities dashboards, as well as sustainability reporting.

Ideas and feedback for consideration by the committee may be submitted via email to

The trustees also approved the demolition of the former golf clubhouse on the Bloomington campus and Kickapoo Cabin, Cherokee Cabin and Caretaker Trailer at Bradford Woods, IU’s outdoor center located between Bloomington and Indianapolis in Morgan County. All of these facilities have accumulated considerable deferred maintenance, making renovation infeasible.


Capital Planning and Facilities

Beth Feickert

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