Campus News

UK Makes Progress Toward Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target

UK hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 6, 2019) — In December of 2016, the University of Kentucky made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025 compared to 2010 levels. Thanks to UK’s Emissions Reduction Plan and the work of many different units across campus, the university is on track to meet or exceed this target.

UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017-18 were four percent below the 2010 baseline. A new report from the UK Office of Sustainability provides additional details on the progress made during the first performance year for the plan. 

“The progress we made last year is especially exciting given that the campus continues to grow. We still have many challenges ahead relative to our goal to reduce campus emissions, but this is a promising start and it demonstrates the university’s commitment to take action relative to climate change,” said Shane Tedder, sustainability coordinator.

UK tracks and reports emissions from nine distinct activities related to the campus in Lexington including:

  • combustion of natural resources (coal and natural gas) in campus heating plants; 
  • electricity usage;
  • gasoline and diesel used for fleet vehicles;
  • business air travel;
  • education abroad air travel;
  • employee commuting;
  • student commuting;
  • landfill waste; and
  • wastewater treatment.

The efforts to optimize campus energy performance are led by UK’s Utilities and Energy Management Division. Substantial reductions were attributed to a campuswide energy conservation initiative that is coordinated in partnership with an external energy solutions company, and investments in the utility infrastructure, including the addition of new, more efficient equipment used to produce the chilled water used to cool campus buildings.

“Energy conservation is good for everyone and takes everyone’s participation. It’s one of our core strategies for renewing the utilities infrastructure and reducing our carbon footprint. Last year’s gains were encouraging and reflect the efforts of the entire campus community,” stated Jeff Zumwalt, executive director of utilities and energy management.

The university also made important headway in other areas of campus operations that impact emissions, including transportation and waste diversion. UK Transportation Services launched several new alternative transportation incentive programs and led the way to UK being recognized as a gold level Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. UK Recycling also made strong progress toward their goal of 50 percent waste diversion by expanding recycling efforts during home football games and conducting a pledge drive that engaged thousands of students, faculty and staff. 

For the 2018-19 academic year, the university is targeting a 7.5 percent reduction versus 2017-18. UK is pursuing this target through renovations and upgrades for energy efficiency, additional improvements to base load chilled water production, lighting upgrades, optimization of steam distribution, reducing the vehicle miles traveled by campus commuters, and increasing campus waste diversion. 

To learn more about sustainability on campus and to learn about how you can join the efforts, visit

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue