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As a college campus, we are called on to find solutions to global problems. It’s a challenge that we each face daily, and I am continually impressed by the innovative thinking that takes place on our campus.

It is with that challenge in mind that I am proud to announce the completion of the first version of the UT Knoxville Climate Action Plan (CAP), and I can think of no better time than on Earth Day to share it with you.

As you know, maintaining and enhancing UT Knoxville’s place as a national leader in campus sustainability is one of the strategic goals for our campus, and this plan is at the heart of that effort.

UT Knoxville is a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The commitment lays the groundwork for our nation’s higher education community to take a leadership role in mitigating human influence on climate in our day-to-day operations, curriculum and research. One step in the commitment is to implement a plan by which the campus will become climate neutral.

To be climate neutral means that, in the process of going about our missions of teaching, research and service, the activities of our campus will either not emit greenhouse gases or will offset the emissions we produce.

The goal of climate neutrality is lofty, and this plan recognizes that fact by dividing the process into a series of progressive steps over the coming decades with a target of total climate neutrality by the year 2061. If that sounds like a long time, it is. The CAP is the definition of a living, breathing document. If we do our job right, the plan will change over time as new technologies become available and the face of our campus evolves.

Our Facilities Services Department has shown strong leadership in working with many others on our campus to draft this plan and by leading many of our sustainability efforts. This goal is not one that any single department can meet alone.

In the next several months, you can expect to hear from staff of facilities services on ways that you and your colleagues can help UT Knoxville become climate neutral. I hope you, your friends and colleagues will take the time to meet with them and talk through the ways you, and your department, can help meet the plan’s benchmarks.

The plan is available online at the Make Orange Green Web site. Just click on the “Climate Action Plan” link on the right-hand side of the page. A form is available for you to share your feedback and ideas for future versions of the plan.