Princeton hosts national environmental reporters, spotlighting net-zero research and campus sustainability plans

Written by
Molly Seltzer, Office of Communications
April 11, 2024

Last week, the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) held its annual meeting at the University of Pennsylvania and nearly 1,000 reporters and communications professionals descended on Philadelphia for the four-day conference. It was the first time the conference was held on the East Coast in many years and Princeton took advantage of the location to host two engagements with SEJ and showcase the University’s environmental researchers and net-zero commitment. 

On Thursday, the Office of Communications, in collaboration with partners across campus, hosted 25 SEJ attendees for a campus tour of Princeton’s geo-exchange facilities, including active well drilling sites at Poe Field and TIGER. Journalists from outlets such as Bloomberg and The Associated Press learned about Princeton’s net-zero campus plans from Director of Energy Plants, Ted Borer.

Ted Borer gives a tour of TIGER

Ted Borer speaks to environmental journalists in the control room at TIGER. Photo by Laura Barisonzi.

Participants also heard from Professor Jesse Jenkins about the United States’ progress toward net-zero and the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act. Michelle Ma of Bloomberg News was in attendance and published two stories based on Jenkins’ presentation.

On Friday night, three Princeton professors specializing in climate impacts – Gabriele Villarini, Elie Bou-Zeid and Eric Tate – joined 28 reporters to discuss strategies for communities to build resilience against extreme heat and extreme flooding. The ‘Beat Dinner’ that the Office of Communications hosted in Philadelphia allowed for an intimate setting with a nuanced dialogue about the challenges, risks and opportunities for communities and cities to prepare themselves for ever-more-frequent extreme weather events. The conversation was moderated by Texas Tribune climate reporter Emily Foxhall and outlets represented included NBC News, Grist, and The Seattle Times, amongst others.

Beat dinner

Moderator Emily Foxhall converses with panelists professors  Elie Bou-Zeid, Gabriele Villarini  and Eric Tate (left to right) about extreme weather events and resiliency. Photo by Jennifer Morrill.

Both events engaged different parts of the SEJ community and attendees, who hailed from diverse parts of the country, were excited to connect with Princeton researchers on these topics. Attendees tweeted and shared their positive impressions on social media(Laura Lightbody on LinkedIn; Mary Knowles on LinkedIn; Phil McKenna on Twitter). 

The work, spearheaded by Media Strategist Molly Seltzer, set the stage for news coverage that showcases Princeton’s environmental leadership, and for further relationship building between reporters and Princeton’s environmental researchers. 

For more information about the event and how Princeton is proactively engaging with the media, contact [email protected] or Director of Media Relations Jen Morrill at [email protected]