UVA Joins Inaugural National Climate Challenge

UVA Joins Inaugural National Climate Challenge

UVA has joined more than 90 organizations and companies across the country as part of the Department of Energy’s first cohort of partners in the Better Climate Challenge. The program calls for bold, portfolio-wide greenhouse gas reductions to help tackle the climate crisis, and will facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience among the broad range of private and public entities. Other inaugural partners include IKEA, Harley-Davidson, the State of Maryland, University of Chicago, Colorado State University and many more.


“The University of Virginia is proud to be an inaugural partner in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge,” said President Jim Ryan. “UVA is committed to leadership in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions while also accelerating global solutions to the climate crisis through research, teaching, and engagement. We have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 44% over the past decade and look forward to sharing replicable models and learning about best practices with other Better Climate Challenge partners to accelerate our mutual successes across sectors.”

The program launched Feb. 28 with a virtual roundtable featuring Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge. UVA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Office J.J. Davis was among several of the inaugural partners on the call.

See UVA’s page on the DOE website Read DOE’s press release

During the presentation, Secretary Granholm said her agency will double down on the federal government’s climate commitments by providing technical assistance and convening peer-to-peer exchanges among the Better Climate Challenge participants “With the help of DOE, the meaningful and measurable emissions reductions of the Better Climate Challenge will save American businesses billions of dollars, create good-paying jobs, and drive innovation that strengthens the entire U.S. economy.”


UVA partners with DOE on several other programs, including the Better Buildings Challenge which calls for improving building energy efficiency by at least 20% over 10 years, the Better Buildings Alliance, and the Low Carbon Pilot. With programs like our Smart Labs, Green Workplace and many others, UVA achieved a 22% reduction of energy use intensity (energy use per square foot) between 2010 and 2020.

The Better Climate Challenge calls on participants to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half within ten years across their portfolio, without using offsets, meaning the reductions will occur on site. The challenge aligns with UVA’s Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2019, of being carbon neutral by 2030, which is an even more ambitious goal, said Andrea Trimble, the Director of the Office for Sustainability.

“We’re excited to be part of the DOE’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions and look forward to sharing our successes with these leading institutions, as well as learning about their own successes and challenges.”

The Office for Sustainability partners with a variety of local, state and national entities to address the global climate challenge. Only through the power of partnership will we collectively create sustainable, equitable places to live, learn, work, and play.