Senior Leaders Climate Action Group

Prioritizing and championing climate action and leadership

The Senior Leaders Climate Action Group directs Cornell’s role as an international leader and exemplar to the world in addressing climate change and promoting sustainability through research, education, engagement, and operations – using our own campus as a living laboratory. The SLCAG was formed in 2016 and is led by Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, and Frederick Burgess, Vice President for Infrastructure, Properties and Planning (IPP).The committee features an array of administrators, deans, faculty and student leaders to help guide the university’s climate-action direction. 


With a goal of ameliorating current climate trends by spurring innovative cross-disciplinary solutions, the group will:

  • Serve as the ongoing university leadership group for setting broad climate action direction and prioritizing initiatives that offer the greatest promise of emissions-reducing breakthroughs
  • Organize consortia of stakeholders including federal and state government, private industry, utilities, and foundations to collaborate on high-priority initiatives
  • Communicate to policy makers and the general public knowledge gained through research and demonstration projects
  • Develop a campus-wide engagement plan integrating climate action strategies into the campus culture and strategic plans
  • Champion the campus Climate Action Plan which will be reviewed annually and updated every 5 years.

Proposed Leads for Discussion, Fall 2017
  1. Campus Engagement
    • Lead: Mike Hoffmann
    • Goal: Ensure that every student, faculty, and staff member understands the challenges posed by climate change and actively engages in solutions to reduce Cornell’s greenhouse emissions.
  2. Energy Efficient Buildings
    • Lead: Paul Streeter
    • Goal: Increase the number of high-performance buildings on campus, reducing the need for new sources of renewable energy.
  3. Mission-Linked Carbon Offsets
    • Lead: Bob Howarth
    • Goal: Develop forest management projects such as 1) carbon sequestration, 2) land leasing for renewable energy, and 3) offsetting unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions from business-related travel.
  4. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Protocol Review
    • Lead: Bert Bland
    • Goal: Evaluate how to add emissions associated with upstream natural gas/methane leakage to our greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. Determine the value of changing other aspects to more precisely align with an external reporting protocol for GHG
  5. Electricity
    • Lead: Sarah Zemanick
    • Goal: Procure as much renewable electricity as the campus uses on a net annual basis in accordance with established guidelines and protocols.
  6. Heat
    • Lead: Lance Collins
    • Goal: Create a heat distribution, generation strategy, and implementation plan based on Earth Source Heat.
  7. Transportation
    • Lead: Todd Cowen and Oliver Gao
    • Goal: Decrease carbon emissions from commuting and on-campus circulation by encouraging more efficient methods of travel. Increase usage of low- and no-emission vehicles. Choose less carbon-intensive modes of transportation for business trips such as remote participation.
  8. Advocate for Climate Action & Sustainability in the University Strategic Plan
    • Lead: David Lodge
    • Goal: Ensure that climate action and sustainability are incorporated into university strategic plans.
  9. Funding Alternatives
    • Lead: TBD
    • Goal: Identify a options and criteria to be considered for funding Climate Action Plan initiatives.

  • (Co-Chair) Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering 
  • (Co-Chair) Rick Burgess, Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services
  • Beth Ahner, Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering and Senior Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  
  • Robert Bland, Associate Vice President for Energy and Sustainability 
  • Edwin A. Cowen, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Kathy Dwyer Marble and Curt Marble Faculty Director for Energy, David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future 
  • Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 
  • Barbara Knuth, Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School 
  • David Lodge, the Francis J. DiSalvo Director of the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future 
  • Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student and Campus Life 
  • Joel Malina, Vice President for University Relations 
  • Alan Mathios, the Rebecca Q. And James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology 
  • Mark Milstein, Clinical Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management 
  • Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer 
  • Tishya Ravichander Rao ’18, Urban and Regional Studies in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning 
  • Paul Streeter, Vice President for Budget and Planning 
  • Sarah Zemanick, Director of the Campus Sustainability Office