– and research in smart grid technology – allowing campus energy
managers to track and eventually control energy supply and demand
in real time. Monitoring all energy and distribution sources as well
as energy demand, and modulating utility production to match
system need, will enable wind, solar and hydropower to be more
A Larger Vision, a Broader Mission
As New York state’s land-grant university, Cornell helps turn
knowledge into practical actions and contributes to the economic
prosperity of the public realm. The university’s programs in energy,
environment and economic development involve more than 30
on-campus centers, 300 faculty and 60 state extension agents in
initiatives at local, national and international levels. The Climate
Action Plan itself was granted funding from NYSERDA so that
the planning processes and tools created to develop it can be used
by other institutions and municipalities. The practical answers
that Cornell’s Climate Action Plan will yield on questions of
environmental sustainability are indeed answers that, as President
Skorton envisioned, will belong to us all.
Authors’ Note: The authors wish to thank Peter Strupp, director of
communications, Affiliated Engineers, Inc., for his contributions to the
writing of this article.
James R. Adams, Cornell University’s director of utilities
since 2000, manages campus production and distribution
of steam, chilled water, electricity and potable water. He
participated actively in the development of the Climate
Action Plan, leading the fuel mix and renewable ‘wedge’
and defining carbon offsetting activities on behalf of the
university. In the energy industry since 1980, Adams
currently serves on IDEA’s board of directors. He may be
reached at email@example.com.
Jerrold A. Schuett, PE, is infrastructure practice leader for
Affiliated Engineers, Inc. He served as principal-in-charge and
lead consultant for the fuel mix portion of Cornell’s Climate
Action Plan. Actively involved in IDEA as a member and
presenter on technical topics for nearly 20 years, Schuett has
more than 30 years’ experience in engineering consulting at
AEI. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Walters, PE, LEED AP, is sustainability practice
leader for Affiliated Engineers, Inc. He directed overall
development of Cornell’s Climate Action Plan. His
consulting projects have included work for the National
Institutes of Health and King Abdullah University of Science
and Technology in Saudi Arabia. A frequent industry
speaker, Walters has taught the sustainable building design
and LEED course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He can be contacted at email@example.com.
The Planning Process The year-long development of Cornell University’s Climate Action Plan, led by consultants Affiliated Engineers, Inc., proceeded in five stages:
1. Discovery – During this stage, the planning team
established base case metrics against which all Climate
Action Plan options would be assessed. These included
estimates of campus growth, projected energy supply and
demand by energy type, and costs associated with future
greenhouse gas regulations.
2. Ideation – Next, methods and strategies for carbon
reduction were solicited from the entire Cornell and
Ithaca communities, ultimately generating 706 ideas that
were grouped with like concepts and either advanced or
identified for research, future consideration or elimination.
3. Analysis – In this phase, the 706 ideas were grouped
according to 114 themes and were assessed relating to
scale of implementation, carbon abatement potential,
first cost, operating cost and qualitative review of
environmental (beyond carbon), economic, social and
institutional considerations (‘triple bottom line plus’).
Actions advanced from analysis were considered together
as an interrelated investment portfolio, and 19 actions
were endorsed for the next stage.
4. Plan Creation – This stage was comprised of near-term
actions for immediate implementation, recommended
mid-term actions subject to periodic review and long-term
opportunities that should be monitored and assessed
5. Execution – The final stage, executing the plan, is
now under way, consisting of feasibility studies, grant
proposals and project development.
Cornell’s Climate Action Plan is not a static document, but
a dynamic tool and an evolving initiative, in keeping with
opportunities that will surely emerge with new technologies
and changing cultural and economic circumstances over the
next 40 years. Accordingly, the principle objectives of the plan
are profiled, and their progress will be reported on Cornell’s
dedicated Climate Action Plan Web site.
To learn more about Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, visit