Sustainability and Resiliency


Brown recognizes it has a part to play in the global effort to mitigate the impact of global climate change.

Human-caused global climate change is first and foremost a problem of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Scientists predict that the world’s current emissions trajectory, absent a rapid switch to renewable electricity and elimination of fossil fuel combustion by mid-century, will almost certainly result in global average temperatures that will have devastating effects on the environment and society. The consequences will be severe even assuming middle-of-the-road emissions scenarios that result in 2-3°C (3.6 - 5.4°F) global average temperature increase. 

To have a reasonable chance of averting catastrophic climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserts that global emissions of greenhouse gases must peak now, and reach zero by midcentury (around the year 2050). To this end, Brown has identified aggressive GHG emissions reduction goals as a primary focus to align efforts with the IPCC.  Brown’s new emissions goal, approved in 2019, is to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 with an interim goal of reducing emissions by 75% by 2025 from a baseline of 2018.

Decarbonization Plan

In 2019, Brown committed to eliminating our campus GHG emissions on a timeframe aligned with the 2050 target established by international scientific consensus. Brown pledged that campus emissions (Scopes 1 + 2) will reach net-zero by 2040, with a 75% reduction by 2025 relative to the fiscal year 2018 baseline. This effort is likely to cost the university around $200 million over that time, and as such represents Brown’s largest ever investment in sustainability. It’s indicative of Brown’s belief, based on scientific consensus, that climate change is the greatest threat to sustainability in the 21st century.

In order to meet these goals, the University has identified a net-zero roadmap and financial plan that focuses on investing in renewable energy, retrofitting our campus buildings and central heat plant, and ensuring all renovations and new construction are net-zero or net-zero ready. 

Two multi-year power purchase agreements will produce as much renewably-generated electricity as Brown consumes.
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Completed in 2020, this three-year, $24 million project has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and helped clear the way for net-zero campus emissions.
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Wellness Center and Residence Hall

Designed to foster a holistic approach to student wellness at Brown University, the new center co-locates services and programs instrumental to students’ physical and emotional well-being and integrates 162 student residential beds.

Students moving into the new Wellness Center residence hallEnergy Facts:

  • Designed to LEED Silver V4 standards
  • Includes carbon negative building materials, natural light, and natural ventilation
  • Engineered to reduce energy loss and utilize energy recovery on air systems
  • No fossil fuel burning equipment within the building systems (all electric)