Our Commitment to Climate Action Skip Navigation

Our Commitment

Colgate established an ambitious target to be climate neutral by 2019, the university’s 200th anniversary.
Student walking to Case in the winter.

Presidents’ Climate Commitment

In January 2009, Colgate became a signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

By signing the commitment, Colgate pledged to complete a baseline inventory of emissions, take immediate short-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make sustainability a component of our formal curriculum, and create a step-by-step plan with measurable goals including a target date for reaching climate neutrality.

Climate Action Plan

In 2011, we completed our Sustainability and Climate Action Plan — our road map for climate neutrality by 2019.

Bicentennial Plan

In 2017, we completed our Bicentennial Plan to pave the way for a sustainable and carbon neutral campus. 

Climate Action Updates

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A sprouting plant.

13 Sustainable Initiatives

Here are some stories tracking developments in our quest for carbon neutrality. We have:
1. Became a signatory to Second Nature's Carbon Commitment and pledged to be carbon neutral by our bicentennial in 2019.

2. Constructed LEED Certified buildings including Trudy Fitness Center and Class of 1965 Arena.

3. Began composting food scraps and implemented trayless dining in Frank Dining Hall.

4. Recycled electronic waste such as TVs, computers, and printers from more than fifteen     e-waste recycling stations on campus.

5. Launched the Annual Green Summit, Colgate's longest running environmental symposium wherein students, faculty, staff and community members come together and explore the concept and practice of sustainability at Colgate and beyond.

6. Certified Colgate's 1,000+ acres of forested   land for long-term sustainable management and established protocol for measuring forest carbon and annual sequestration.

7. Broke ground for Colgate's Community Garden and welcomed honey bees to the garden.
8. Upgraded the biomass heating plant and planted 60,000 fast-growing willow shoots to grow our own energy. 

9. Installed a geothermal energy system beneath the Chapel House. 

10. Hired Green Raider student interns to work collaboratively in inspiring sustainable behavior within the Colgate community. 

11. Installed a solar thermal array in 100 Broad Street to produce hot water throughout the building.

12. Committed to Patagonia Sur's Carbon Offset Program in southern Chile, providing Colgate 5,000 tons of forestry-based carbon offsets per year until 2028. Furthermore, it provides extensive learning opportunities for students. 

13. Expanded the Green Bikes Program to provide Colgate students with an inexpensive and convenient option to decrease reliance on automobiles. 

Patagonia Sur

As part of ambitious effort to be carbon neutral by 2019, Colgate has signed onto a 15-year commitment  with Patagonia Sur, purchasing 225,000 native-species trees that will be planted on 430 acres of land in Chile’s Aysén Region of Patagonia. The University's forest-based carbon offset is estimated to sequester 5,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually and plays a critical role in helping to reduce Colgate’s ecological footprint while support forest restoration efforts in some of the most impacted communities. An extended study is scheduled to take place in January 2018 led by Associate Professor of Biology Eddie Watkins and Sustainability Director John Pumilio. The 22-day, half-credit trip will be part of an environmental studies class focusing on natural resource conservation, providing students with the opportunity to learn about forest conservation efforts and visit the Colgate Forest.  


Sustainability Council

The Sustainability Council is comprised of students, faculty, and staff that serves as an advisory committee to the president about all aspects of sustainability on campus. Throughout the year, the council works on sustainability initiatives in collaboration with several departments and programs such as Buildings & Grounds , the Environmental Studies academic program, The Dean of Faculty, and Chartwells, Colgate’s main dining service provider.

If you have any comments or suggestions for Colgate's sustainability program and initiatives, contact the Sustainability Council.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories


2016
This year marks Colgate's eighth consecutive greenhouse gas inventory report. Colgate's gross campus carbon emissions in Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) was 15,359 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2). We have reduced our net campus carbon footprint by 8,001 MTeCO2, representing a 48 percent reduction. Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2009, rebranded as Second Nature's Carbon Commitment, Colgate has implemented many changes on and off campus to achieve these reductions, moving closer toward our goal of carbon neutrality by 2019. 2016 State of Sustainability Report

2015
This year marks Colgate's seventh consecutive greenhouse gas inventory report. Colgate's gross campus carbon emissions in Fiscal Year 2015 is 14,562 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTeCO2).  That represents a 2,253 ton reduction from our 2009 baseline, a 13 percent reduction.  Likewise, we have reduced our net campus carbon footprint (scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions plus forest sequestration and carbon offsets) by 7,583 MTeCO2, representing a 49 percent reduction.  Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2009, rebranded as Second Nature's Carbon Commitment, Colgate has implemented many changes on and off campus to achieve these reductions, moving closer toward our goal of carbon neutrality by 2019. 2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report

2014
Compared to Colgate’s 2009 baseline inventory, the university decreased its emissions by 3,841 MTeCO2 (from 17,353 in 2009 to 13,512 in 2014), or by 22 percent. Emissions increased by 389 MTeCO2 in FY 2014 (13,512 MTeCO2) compared to FY 2013 (12,934 MTeCO2).  Despite a dramatic increase in the consumption of fuel oil #2 following the heating plant upgrade and a particularly cold and long winter, 2014 marked a year of positive trends. Colgate’s continuing drop in emissions associated with our vehicle fleet, refrigerant use, fertilizer use, electricity consumption, commuting, business travel, and paper use is due to the ongoing implementation of effective behavior change programs, numerous energy conservation and efficiency projects, and meticulous implementation of the projects and policies specified in our 2011 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S-CAP). 2014

2013
Compared to Colgate’s 2009 baseline inventory, the university decreased its emissions by 3,512 MTeCO2 (from 17,353 in 2009 to 13,841 in 2013), or by 20.2 percent. Emissions increased slightly in FY 2013 (13,841 MTeCO2) compared to FY 2012 (13,817 MTeCO2). This was due to an increase in fuel oil consumption as the result of a much colder and windier heating season. Despite this marginal increase, FY 2013 marked a year of positive trends. Colgate’s continuing drop in emissions associated with our vehicle fleet, refrigerant use, fertilizer use, electricity consumption, commuting, business travel, and paper use is due to the ongoing implementation of effective behavior change programs, numerous energy conservation and efficiency projects, and meticulous implementation of the projects and policies specified in our 2011 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S-CAP). 2013

2012
Compared to Colgate's 2009 baseline inventory, the university decreased its emissions by 3,536 tons (from 17,353 in 2009 to 13,817 tons in 2012), or by 20.4 percent. This marked the lowest level of emissions since we began measuring our comprehensive greenhouse gas footprint in 2009.

Colgate’s 2012 gross emissions were 4.71 tons per full-time student and 5.90 tons per 1,000 square-feet of building space. This is a reduction in emissions of 1.52 tons per student and 1.54 tons per 1,000 square-feet when compared to our 2009 baseline inventory. Colgate’s highest sources of emissions were found to be our consumption of fossil fuels (e.g., fuel oil #6, fuel oil #2, kerosene, and propane) for heating at 32 percent of our total emissions, business-related air travel at 28 percent, electricity at 13 percent, and faculty and staff commuting at 10 percent. 2012

2011
Colgate’s 2011 gross emissions were 5.63 tons per full-time student and 7.02 tons per 1,000 square-feet of building space. This is a reduction in emissions of 0.60 tons per student and 0.42 tons per 1,000 square-feet when compared to our 2009 baseline inventory. Colgate’s highest sources of emissions were found to be our consumption of fossil fuels (e.g., fuel oil #6, fuel oil #2, kerosene, and propane) for heating at 35 percent of our total emissions, business-related air travel at 32 percent, electricity at 11 percent, and faculty and staff commuting at 8 percent.
Compared to Colgate's 2009 baseline inventory, the university decreased its emissions by 1,159 tons (from 17,353 in 2009 to 16,194 in 2011), or by 9 percent. Colgate was able to accomplish this despite adding an additional 150 students and a new 15,000 square-foot fitness center. Colgate University accomplished these reductions by implementing effective behavior change programs coupled with various energy conservation and efficiency projects. 2011

2010
In 2010, Colgate University reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent (from 17,323 tons in 2009 to 14,505 tons in 2010). This reduction is mainly the result of conservation and efficiency projects through a 24 percent decrease in fuel oil consumption, a 4 percent decrease in electricity consumption, a 33 percent decrease in paper use, and a 4 percent decrease in landfill waste. 2010

2009
In the summer of 2009, Ben Taylor '10 spearheaded an effort by the Sustainability Office to complete the university's first comprehensive baseline carbon inventory.  Colgate’s gross emissions were 6.24 tons per full time student and 7.46 tons per 1,000 square feet of building space. Colgate’s highest sources of emissions were found to be on-site combustion of fossil fuels at 36 percent of our total emissions, business-related air travel at 27 percent, electricity at 11 percent, and faculty and staff commuting at 10 percent. 2009 (Baseline)