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Climate Action

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

“Our aggressive time frame makes sense in terms of good global citizenship as well as Colgate’s academic mission.”
— President Jeffrey Herbst on climate neutrality date

Climate Action Updates

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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.

Initiatives

We are striving for our goal of carbon neutrality in a number of different ways. Check out what we're doing in each of the following areas:




Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories

2013: 13,841 tons
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).

2012: 13,817 tons 
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.

2011: 16,194 tons
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.

2010: 14,505 tons
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. 

2009 (Baseline): 17,353 tons
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.

Sustainability and Climate Action Plan

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

Comments and Feedback

Do you have an idea that will help advance sustainability at Colgate?  Would you like to comment or provide feedback on our Sustainability and Climate Action Plan?  LEARN MORE

Progress and Development

Here are some stories tracking developments in our quest for carbon neutrality. We have: