As a Living Laboratory for Sustainability, Cornell University supports research, scholarship, and the practical application of knowledge that address one of humankind’s greatest challenges: achieving a sustainable world for all…

Cornell University is a committed steward of the Earth and its people. From innovation to public engagement, Cornellians are balancing today’s economic, environmental, and social issues with related needs of the future. Explore our ten focus areas to learn how Cornell’s students, staff and faculty are cultivating collaboration, and acting as a premier hub for sustainability in operations, research, education, and engagement.

The university’s specific commitment to campus sustainability is formalized in the 2010-2015 Cornell University Strategic Plan. The plan calls for sustainability to be a guiding principle in all campus operations and specifically for the implementation of the Climate Action Plan (  and Comprehensive Master Plan. For information on education, research, and public engagement for sustainability visit the Sustainability at Cornell portal. (

Progress in the arena of campus sustainability requires participation and innovation from every corner of campus. From the links below you can learn about the diverse efforts of student organizations, staff green teams, and the Cornell Assemblies’ three sustainability committees. In particular, the Presidents Sustainable Campus Committee and the Campus Sustainability Office, along with the 10 President’s Sustainable Campus Committee Focus Teams, play important roles in the coordination and support of these efforts.

Cornell’s mission, role, and very identity are linked to leadership in education and research, developing technologies that will impact the world and providing students with knowledge they will carry into their adult lives as tomorrow’s leaders. Cornell must be prepared for life on a “small” planet, including: allocating diminishing resources while maintaining social stability; promoting innovation that will lead to productive careers and job growth; and promoting behavior that supports sustainability at individual, as well as societal, levels.

For more on Cornell’s Sustainable Campus click here:

Click here to read the Cornell University Sustainability Plan

Cornell’s Sustainable History 

Cornell is a global leader in sustainability and climate change research, teaching and engagement. Our campuses are living laboratories for developing, testing and implementing solutions that address these most challenging issues.

As early as the 1880s, with the development of its hydro-electric plant, Cornell has made substantial and sustained investments in clean energy technologies in Ithaca. We are continuing that ethic with the building of our new New York City campus where we will employ innovative energy efficiency initiatives, including designing and building the first net zero academic building on the Roosevelt Island site.

Cornell’s annual 3.14 trillion BTU heating and electric consumption is equivalent to about 0.1 percent of New York State’s consumption and one-third of Tompkins County’s. Cornell’s energy conservation programs have allowed our energy usage to stay flat since 2000, despite a 15 percent growth in campus building square footage.

Earth source heat is an ideal next step in continuing our commitment to sustainability and the creation of knowledge that can lead to scalable solutions to some of the world’s most difficult challenges.

Click here to learn more about Cornell’s sustainability history and milestones.