Brown Is Green (BIG) began in 1990 as an environmental education and advocacy initiative at Brown University. The purpose was to expand the involvement of undergraduates in the research and analysis of environmental problems related to University operations and provide a model for active learning that could be replicated nationally. Initial projects included energy conservation and pollution reductions, and grew to include environmentally responsible design, energy efficiency, resource recovery, water conservation, and transportation.
In 2003, Brown University President Ruth Simmons signed a pledge sponsored by the New England Board of Higher Education to:
1. assess Brown’s energy use and pursue policies and programs to reduce our energy consumption;
2. develop long-term plans to shift away from carbon intensive fuel sources to clean, renewable energy sources;
3. educate our students on the problem of global climate change; and
4. to incorporate the issue of global climate change into our curriculum, where feasible.
An Energy and Environmental Task Force was established to assess the University’s baseline situation and impact and provide recommendations. In October 2006, the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) was established to develop long and short term energy and environmental goals and strategies. The EEAC released its first set of recommendations spring 2007 for Brown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to have the University move toward climate neutrality. The recommendations included reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10-15% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to aspire to a goal of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Committee also recommended that Brown achieve carbon neutrality by FY2008 in part by initiating carbon offset projects in the local community. In response to the latter recommendation, the Community Carbon Use Reduction at Brown (CCURB) Grant was created. The administration approved additional recommendations in January 2008.
The BIG website was selected to be the communication tool through which progress on the recommendations and adoptions will flow. BIG will also continue to be a valuable resource for information about its initial projects and will include links to other Brown environmental initiatives, student groups, community projects, courses, and research.