Next steps on Miami's path to carbon neutrality

The sustainability committee suggests a move to empower faculty, staff and students

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications

In September 2019, Miami University President Greg Crawford charged the Miami University sustainability committee to examine issues to help the university decide whether to create a plan for carbon neutrality under the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC) or to create a plan independent of the PCLC.

The committee addressed seven objectives in the charge and submitted a report to President Crawford Feb. 1: “Further Examination of Carbon Neutrality Pathways. Addendum to A Commitment to Lead.” 

50-50Based on its research and findings, the committee recommends that Miami become a signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments.

  • While the report is currently under review, President Crawford has expressed his intent to sign, on behalf of Miami University, the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments – and do so on April 22, 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. 

The report states that:

  • Signing the PCLC is a public declaration of Miami’s existing commitment to carbon neutrality.
  • Making this public commitment through the PCLC could help rally the campus and empower faculty, staff and students as we all work together to achieve carbon neutrality. 


In January 2019, President Crawford charged the Miami University Sustainability Committee to prepare a new and innovative sustainability plan by June 1, 2019.


The North Chiller plant (above) will convert to geothermal by 2025, part of the Utility Master Plan that helps lay a path for Miami to become carbon neutral (photo by Scott Kissell).

In response to this charge, Miami’s sustainability committee created a comprehensive report including input from internal and external stakeholders: "A Commitment to Lead: A proposed, renewed vision to position Miami University as a sustainability leader among higher education institutions."  

In the June 1, 2019 ”Commitment to Lead” report, among other data and recommendations, the committee recommended a commitment to carbon neutrality by one of two pathways:

  1. Sign the Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitment (PCLC) which provides guidance and ensures transparency; or
  2. Implement our own university-based plan that is transparent and rigorous.

In September 2019, President Crawford expressed his commitment to carbon neutrality at Miami. He charged the committee with exploring additional details that could shape a Miami plan for carbon neutrality by examining seven objectives that included:

  • The potential structure of a carbon neutrality plan.
  • Composition of a task force to develop and implement the plan.
  • Institutional definition of carbon neutrality.
  • Potential costs and barriers.
  • Comparison of PCLC-submitted plans to plans of non-PCLC signatories.
  • Describing ways Miami faculty, staff and students can help offset our carbon emissions. 

On Oct. 3, 2019, the committee held a public forum to receive feedback from the Miami community and to announce President Crawford's commitment to carbon neutrality. 

The committee updated the board of trustees on Dec. 13, 2019, with a comprehensive presentation. 



After 2018 renovations, Scott Hall (above) and Minnich Hall received LEED Gold ratings in September 2019. They are among Miami's 29 LEED Gold or Silver rated buildings that reduce effects on climate.  

Among other findings and recommendations: The sustainability committee recommended that since Miami has already made a commitment to carbon neutrality, the next step is to create a Climate Action Plan.

This can be achieved independently of the PCLC; however, by becoming a signatory of the PCLC, Miami would be part of a large (>400) network of colleges, provided with a timeline for reporting and some unique options for verifying carbon offsets that are not available outside the PCLC.

Therefore, the committee recommended that Miami sign the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments.  

Report authors: Lead author, Suzanne Zazycki, committee co-chair. Co-authors: Helaine Alessio, committee co-chair, Susan Meikle and Adam Sizemore. Contributing authors: Olivia Herron and Cecil Okotah. Additional contributions by the sustainability committee members.  

Learn more:  Special Faculty Assembly presentation of report March 10

The sustainability committee co-chairs Helaine Alessio and Suzanne Zazycki, and director of sustainability Adam Sizemore, with Cody Powell, vice-president of facilities and planning, and Doug Hammerle, director of energy systems, will present details of the report at the faculty assembly meeting at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in 104 Shriver Center.  sustainability-logo

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