Home RU Climate Stewardship

Addressing Climate Change in the Rutgers Community

+ Tracking Environmental Stewardship in Partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Rutgers University on November 3, 2009 with the United States Environmental Protection Agency pledging to become an environmental steward through implementation of a number of green initiatives that would reduce its carbon footprint and further improve our planet’s environment.This partnership between the EPA and Rutgers University has resulted in reducing energy, water and solid waste production across campus operations. Between November 2009 and November 2012, Rutgers has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by an estimated 194,797 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCO2e) and save an estimated $22,955,000 in operating expenses. In addition, the University is currently a member of the United States Green Building Council, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability, as well an Energy Star and Combined Heat and Power Partner with the EPA.

Overview of Emission Reductions Since November 2009

Environmental Metrics

Total Sector (MTCO2e)

Energy Conservation


Alternative Energy


Water Conservation


Solid Waste


Green Landscaping




Total (MTCO2e)



*MTCO2e = Metric Ton Carbon Dioxide Equivalent






+ Energy Use and Generation

Cogeneration. Since 1995 Rutgers has operated a cogeneration energy plant on Busch Campus that provides electricity and heating to both its Livingston and Busch campuses. The plant produces 13.5 million watts of power daily, enough to meet 90% of the energy demand of Livingston and Busch campuses at the time of construction and was awarded the Combined Heat and Power Certificate of Recognition by the EPA’s EnergyStar program in 2000. The plant has reduced CO2 emissions by 70,000 tons and saved between one and two million dollars per year in energy costs since its construction. On average, the plant produces 76 million kWh per year and produces an average of 4 million therms per year for heating on Busch and Livingston. Cogeneration power plants produce two types of energy from a single fuel. The Busch plant burns natural gas to generate electricity via a turbine generator, while the heat generated from burning the natural gas is then used to heat pressurized water that is then pumped into buildings to be used for heating. Normal power plants tend to operate at about 35-45% efficiency, while cogeneration power plants like the one on Busch operate at about 75% efficiency. Additionally, the piping system that carries the super-heated water from the cogeneration plant to buildings on Busch and Livingston was recently upgraded to provide better insulation and is expected to save the University an additional $2,520,000 in fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions by 4,570,000 pounds annually. There are also currently plans in the works to expand the facility.

Solar Power. In 2009, Rutgers completed installation of a 1.4 megawatt solar farm that generates approximately 11% of the electrical demand of Livingston Campus, and is expected to save the University more than $200,000 per year in energy costs, as well as earning Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. Currently running at 95% efficiency on a good day, the 7-acre solar farm reduces Rutgers’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,300 tons per year and will offset the need to purchase power or draw on the capacity of the University’s cogeneration power plant.

stewardship solar-parking

As of January 2013, Rutgers successfully completed construction of an additional 8.01 megawatts of solar generating capacity by installing solar canopies over 28 acres of parking space on Livingston Campus, making it one of the largest solar canopy arrays in the country. The canopies will be able to power 51% of Livingston Campus and will reduce the University’s CO2 emissions by 6,364 tons per year. Over a 28 year period the project is expected to provide the University with a net savings of $28 million. The combined solar energy capacity on Livingston Campus generates enough power to satisfy 63% of the electrical demand of the campus.

Geothermal Energy. As of September 1, 2013, Rutgers successfully completed a geothermal energy project on Livingston Campus. By using the Earth’s stable core temperature, geothermal energy now offsets energy costs for heating and cooling of the new Rutgers School of Business-New Brunswick building. The project consists of 321 wells at a depth of 500 feet to provide 700 tons of cooling annually.

Energy Conservation. With the help of New Jersey’s Clean Energy rebate program, Rutgers was able to replace existing motors in air handlers, cooling towers, exhaust fans, and circulating pumps with EPAct high efficiency motors, as well as install variable-frequency drives which increase efficiency to an even greater degree. As a result the University has been able to save 2.8 kWh of electricity and 1,500 tons of CO2.

Through the use of American Reinvestment Act funds, gas boilers at the Rutgers EcoComplex were retrofitted with new burners that use carbon-neutral landfill gas for 80% of its operating hours, as well as technology that slows the airflow over the burner tips, allowing for complete combustion of the landfill gas. The project is anticipated to save the University $104,600 annually in energy costs.

With support from PSE&G’s Direct Install Program, the first phase of a five year project to replace existing light fixtures with higher efficiency ones and add motion sensors was recently completed and is expected to save the University just under $1,000,000 per year in electric costs. The estimated energy savings at the completion of the entire project is 42 kWh of electricity per year.

All new buildings and major renovations at the University are required to be built to LEED Silver Standards which has been shown to provide energy savings of at least 20%.

During holidays and school breaks Rutgers takes steps to conserve energy by reducing heating and lighting in most university buildings, as well as turning off computers and other electrical equipment.

Innovation. The Rutgers Energy Institute hosts the annual Energy Innovation Contest, a cash-prize contest which asks undergraduate students to devise innovative and implementable solutions to reducing energy consumption at Rutgers.

Each year, the New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses compete in a campus vs. campus electrical energy reduction competition. The campus that reduces the most energy during a specific month as compared to the year before wins a roving trophy provided by PSE&G. In 2013, the New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses will initiate a campus dormitory vs. campus dormitory electrical energy reduction competition in concert with the Campus Conservation National Competition. This will be an internal competition but allow Rutgers residence life to see how it compares with other residence life energy consumption around the country.

+ Recycling and Waste Reduction

Recycling and Waste Reduction saves on disposal and energy costs, removes unsightly dumpsters and minimizes the number of indoor receptacles and plastic bags while reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation, landfilling or thermal combustion as well as the emissions associated with the extraction and processing of new raw materials rather than re-use of existing materials. Further information about the benefits of recycling and waste reduction is provided here.

Single Stream Recycling. In 2011, Rutgers instituted single stream recycling, changing more than 12,000 receptacles in offices and hallways. Single stream recycling systems allow for all paper, plastics, metals and other recyclable materials to be mixed together instead of having to be sorted separately at the time of disposal. This reduces costs and increases the participation and efficiency of recycling.


stewardship recyclemaniaRecycleMania. Since 2007 Rutgers has won seven consecutive RecycleMania Gorilla Prizes for overall recycling, a nationwide recycling competition for environmentally friendly colleges and universities that features over 700 entrants. The Gorilla Prize is awarded to the academic institution that recycles the greatest overall amount of material during the course of the competition. During the eight week contest in the spring of 2013, the Rutgers community recycled 1,519,216 tons of material.

Rutgers Football: 0 Waste Did you know that Rutgers 2012 football season was our first "Zero Waste" season? During the 2012 campaign, we composted 9.68 tons of solid waste, recycled 101.48 tons of solid waste, landfilled 0.00 tons of solid waste, and  saved over $4,000 in disposal fees. A winning season on and off the field!

Trash Compaction. With the help of Waste Management of New Jersey, Rutgers installed 10 pairs of smart, solar-powered trash compactors in New Brunswick and Camden. “Big Belly” compactors were installed which produce 35 to 40 pound cubes, five times as much trash as a normal container of its size. These smart compactors alert staff via email when its time for pickup, thereby reducing labor and fuel costs.

Recycling Kiosks. PepsiCo has introduced recycling kiosks in the Rutgers student centers.

Project Move Out. Rutgers has partnered with the city of New Brunswick in a pilot program called Project Move Out, aimed at off-campus students, to collect unwanted furniture, electronics and appliances at the end of the spring semester. In the spring of 2012, Rutgers, in partnership with Waste Management of New Jersey, retrieved 45 tons of bulk waste and five tons of electronics, which were then either recycled or sent to a waste-to-energy plant.

+ Dining Services and Local Produce

Recycling and Reuse. Rutgers University Dining Services has food pulping systems in all dining facilities. All discarded and leftover food is pulverized and water is extracted at an 8:1 ratio; the water waste is then recycled back into the same system. The remaining organic matter is pasteurized, picked up by a farmer and used as pig feed. 

Food Waste to Energy. Rutgers is piloting a food digestion system at the new Livingston Dining Hall which utilizes equipment to pulp and convert leftover food to energy for use on site. 

stewardship shoppingReusable Canvas Bags At the start of the 2012 fall semester the University Dining Services gave out reusable canvas bags in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic bags used when serving takeout meals as opposed to the more than 1.5 million plastic bags that were given out during the 2011-2012 school year. After the start of the semester students can purchase the canvas bags for $1. 

Purchasing From Local Vendors. Rutgers Dining Services purchases its produce from three local vendors: Medoff in New Brunswick, Baldor Produce just outside Hunts Point Market, and Ambrogi Produce in Thorofare, NJ. Purchasing local produce lowers fuel usage, which reduces the carbon impact food has on the environment.

Farm Markets. Since 2008, the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, in partnership with the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station has sponsored the Rutgers Farm Market at the Rutgers Gardens which provides a variety of products grown and produced locally, such as meat, cheese, vegetables, poultry, and baked goods. Since 2009, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in partnership with Johnson & Johnson has sponsored the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. In 2012, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Governing Council with assistance from the Rutgers Administration and the New Brunswick Farmer’s Marker established a seasonal Jersey Fresh Farmer’s Market behind the bookstore on Cook Campus during the fall. Each of these markets provides access to local products for members of the Rutgers community, as well as our neighbors, reducing our collective carbon footprint.

+ Transportation

Electric Charging.The University is working on a prototype recharging network for electric cars powered by the Busch cogeneration plant and Livingston solar arrays. There are two ChargePoint America recharging systems for electric cars at the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation on Busch campus and one behind Martin Hall on Cook Campus. The University is currently in the process of installing four more charging stations on Livingston Campus that will utilize the newly constructed solar parking canopies as a source of power.

stewardship chargepointThe charging stations are part of a Rutgers Energy Institute initiative called the Rutgers Solar-to-Vehicle Project which aims at collecting data in order to analyze trends pertaining to electric car usage and the viability of using solar energy to power such vehicles.

stewardship busAlternative Fuel Vehicles. The University maintains a fleet of alternative fueled vehicles which included 14 cars and 4 pickup trucks that run on Compressed Natural Gas as of 2007. Emissions from natural gas vehicles are much lower than gasoline powered vehicles and a Rutgers EcoComplex demonstration project has shown the viability of producing natural gas for vehicle use from landfill gas. Additionally, in 2006 the University began utilizing a blend of Biodiesel in nearly all New Brunswick and Piscataway campus vehicles, including the entire school bus fleet. The Rutgers bus system is the second largest in New Jersey behind NJ Transit and is operated by First Transit.

Bike Rental Program. The University Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Rutgers Green Purchasing Program and the Rutgers Energy Institute maintains 150 bikes available for student rental at central locations throughout the New Brunswick Campus. Once users register they may access the automated bike rental system and check out bikes for $10 per month or $25 per semester.

+ Green Purchasing

Vendor Contracts. Under the University’s innovative Green Purchasing Program all contracts with vendors contain language requiring that vendors help the University minimize waste and maximize environmental responsibility and leadership. The University uses techniques such as life-cycle analysis to track nearly all goods and products coming and leaving the three Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden in order identify potential areas for waste reduction.

+ More Recycling and Energy Efficiency Facts

In 2010, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash. Of that, over 85 million tons was recycled or composted (34.1%) which is equivalent to removing over 186 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

  • An average American generates 4.43 pounds of trash per day and recycles or composts 1.51 pounds per day.
  • In 2010, Americans recycled 8 million tons of metals (aluminum, steel, etc…), which eliminated more than 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to removing more than 5 million cars from the road for one year.
  • Every ton of mixed paper recycled can save the energy equivalent of 165 gallons of gasoline. Recycling just 1 ton of aluminum cans conserves more than 207 million Btu, equivalent of 36 barrels of oil or 1665 gallons of gasoline.
  • In 2006, recycling in New Jersey saved 235 trillion Btu, equivalent to almost 2 billion gallons of gasoline or the energy needed to power 2 million New Jersey homes for one year.
  • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Swapping one incandescent bulb for a CFL bulb reduces carbon dioxide by 500 pounds a year. Replacing 17 incandescent bulbs has the equivalent of taking one car off the road for a year.
  • Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs have an operational lifespan of between 35,000 and 50,000 hours, equivalent to approximately five years of operational capacity. This means that theoretically, an LED bulb can be left on for more than five years straight, at which point its luminosity will have degraded to 70% of its initial brightness which is the U.S. Department of Energy standard for calculating the lifespans of LED bulbs. In comparison, CFL bulbs have an operational lifespan of between 8,000 and 10,000 hours (approximately one year), while traditional incandescent bulbs have an operational lifespan between 750 and 2,000 hours which is equivalent to at best a few months.
  • Recycled glass production requires 20% less energy and creates 20% less air pollution than glass production from virgin materials.
  • Recycled paper production requires between 23% and 74% less energy and creates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than virgin paper production.
  • The State of New Jersey purchases a variety of recycled products for its government operations including recycled copy paper, paper towels, garbage bags, toner cartridges, antifreeze, traffic cones and road construction aggregate.
  • In addition to preserving natural resources and saving energy, recycling employs almost 27,000 people in New Jersey and adds almost $6 billion in annual receipts to the state's economy.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours, or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.


"10 Ways to Green Your Home." LiveScience. May 24, 2007. http://www.livescience.com/11357-10-ways-green-home.html

"FAQ." Dining Services. Rutgers University. http://food.rutgers.edu/faq

"Key Equipment Finance provides financing of more than 40,000 PV modules for canopy project at Rutgers University, New Jersey ." SolarServer. Heindl Server GmbH. March 8, 2012. http://www.solarserver.com/imprint.html

Liu, Jennifer. "Campus strives to expand energy sustainability." The Daily Targum. Rutgers University. November 10, 2011. http://www.dailytargum.com/news/university/campus-strives-to-expand-energy-sustainability/article_18261208-0b55-11e1-a879-001a4bcf6878.html

Kornitas, Michael. "Retrofitting Rutgers." Engineered Systems Magazine. 30 Jun 2012.


Manas, Steve. "Rutgers: '800-Pound Gorilla' When it Comes to Recycling." Rutgers Today. Rutgers University. September 9, 2011. http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/special-content/fall-2011/rutgers-2018800-poun-20110909

Modesto, Julian. "Dining Services offers reusable takeout bags, reduces waste." The Daily Targum. Rutgers University. September 18, 2012. http://www.dailytargum.com/news/dining-services-offers-reusable-takeout-bags-reduces-waste/article_f1291d5c-0136-11e2-978c-001a4bcf6878.html

Orel, Pam. "Energy plant honored for innovation." Rutgers Focus. Rutgers University. September 15, 2000. http://urwebsrv.rutgers.edu/focus/article/Energy%20plant%20honored%20for%20innovation/180/

"Rutgers Board of Governors Approves 32-Acre Solar Canopy Project." Rutgers Today. Rutgers University. April 5, 2011. http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/news-releases/2011/04/rutgers-board-of-gov-20110405

"Rutgers Introduces Single Stream Recycling in Bid to Retain RecycleMania's Gorilla Prize." Rutgers Today. Rutgers University. February 1, 2011. http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/news-releases/2011/02/rutgers-introduces-s-20110131

Rutgers Recycles Brochure. http://greenpurchasing.rutgers.edu/Images/Downloads/recycling2011.pdf

Rutgers 2012 Recycling Guide. http://www.fms.rutgers.edu/FMSPrograms/Recycling/recycling%20brochure.pdf

Rutgers Single Stream Recycling Flyer. http://facilities.rutgers.edu/pdf/Single%20Stream%20Flyer%20-%20final.pdf.

Rutgers University: A Captive Audience for Super-efficient Generation. Clean Air-Cool Planet. http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/information/pdf/rutgers-university.pdf

Rutgers University Committee for Sustainability. Annual Report 2007. http://sustainability.rutgers.edu/reports/Sustainability_Report_07.pdf

"Single-Stream Recycling Program." Division of Student Affairs. Rutgers University-Camden. http://housing.camden.rutgers.edu/recycle

Taub, Eric. "How Long Did You Say That Bulb Would Last." Bits Blog. The New York Times Company. February 11, 2009. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/how-long-did-you-say-that-bulb-will-last/

United States Department of Energy. Lifetime of White LEDs. Building Technologies Program. September 2009. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/lifetime_white_leds.pdf

Unites States Environmental Protection Agency. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010. http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw_2010_rev_factsheet.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 2. Rutgers University Environmental Assessment: MOU SemiAnnual Report.November 27, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/region2/greenteam/pdf/Rutgers%20EPA%20Environmental%20Assessment%20-%20%20Nov%202012.pdf

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