Brown Is Green

Brown University has a unique role in contributing research, fostering innovation, and in providing a model for environmental sustainability to the greater Providence community and beyond. The University strives to contribute to building a clean, just, and responsible global environment.


In 2016, Brown’s Office of Sustainability set a goal of diverting 50% of its waste by 2020.  A collection of Brown departments and venues, including all major dining facilities, collectively compost more than 500 tons of waste annually, diverting it from local landfills. The success of this diversion has led to significant progress in meeting the waste diversion goal, increasing the rate from 26.5% in 2016 to 36.4% as of 2018. The Office has also developed a campus-wide Waste Management Plan that provides a framework for reaching the waste diversion goal and maximizing efficiencies of waste collection and disposal on campus. The BigBelly trash and recycling stations you see across campus are a part of this plan.


Progress continues to be made on lowering Brown’s Greenhouse Gas emissions. The goal for 2020 is a 42% reduction from 2007 levels.  To date, Brown has reduced its energy-related carbon footprint by 28.2% below 2007 levels through hundreds of optimizations made to lighting, heating and cooling systems, and energy systems used in research. In FY2018, $2.5 million was spent on efficiency improvements. This investment resulted in approximately $840,000 in National Grid utility incentive payments and annual GHG emissions reduction of 1,872 tons and annual utilities savings of $554,000.


In an effort to minimize Brown University’s stormwater impact, the University completed a stormwater master plan in coordination with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the City of Providence, and the Narragansett Bay Commission. The stormwater master plan, which is awaiting approval by the DEM, was developed with the goal of minimizing the stormwater impact on a campus-wide basis versus a building project basis, and will hopefully allow Brown to evaluate and improve stormwater infrastructure by implementing best management practices where they add the greatest value to the campus.


Undergraduate students interested in making a local impact can apply to sustainability internships funded through Brown’s Office of Sustainability. Students partner with a variety of departments including Brown’s Office of Transportation and Parking Services, Dining Services, and the School of Professional Studies, among others, which allows students to get their hands on all areas of campus sustainability, from improving marketing for the office and developing green campus tours, to promoting biking on campus.

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