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Climate Action Planning

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

“We are on track to be carbon neutral by our bicentennial in 2019. Campus planning and building design will incorporate sustainable practices from inception to implementation.”
Colgate University 2014 Strategic Plan

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


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)

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: