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Sustainability News

July 11, 2018

ASU students and utility volunteers plant trees as part of a carbon offset projectArizona State University means business when it comes to achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. The University Sustainability Practices (USP) team is leading the charge and recently launched the ASU Carbon Project, a program that “purchases and generates offsets for difficult to mitigate ASU carbon emissions at the rate of about 44,000 metric tons each year,” according to the project’s website.

Though the university is taking action to reduce carbon emissions by using energy-efficient lighting, upgrading HVAC systems, installing solar panels on campus and more, not all emissions can be eliminated entirely. The good news is these emissions can be canceled out by purchasing carbon offset credits and supporting local projects that mitigate carbon.

Corey Hawkey, the Assistant Director of USP, said that they are developing local projects that directly support ASU research efforts related to urban forestry, walkability, shade and urban heat islands. “We are going to be working with the Urban Climate Research Center to plant trees where they want to ‘test’ them,” he added, referring to efforts in the Valley to fight urban heat islands led by David Hondula, a Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

To partially fund these carbon-reduction initiatives, ASU just enacted a mandatory price on carbon for all ASU-sponsored air travel at a current rate of $8 per round-trip flight. The ASU Carbon Project will soon begin to use these funds for carbon offset credits, purchased through Urban Offsets, but will bank them until 2025. According to Hawkey, purchasing offsets now for later use allows the university to spread out the high initial cost of carbon neutrality and reduce the risk of paying higher costs for these credits later.

In addition, by partnering with ASU staff and faculty on local projects well before the 2025 goal, Hawkey says that USP can “have more meaningful offset projects as the program evolves. We want to build momentum in carbon mitigation projects in order to couple them with the academic and research missions of the ASU Charter.”