Mount Holyoke’s Climate Commitment
In January 2018, the Board of Trustees set the goal of becoming a carbon-neutral campus by 2037, Mount Holyoke’s bicentennial. Progress toward this goal will be assessed every five years.
Carbon neutrality is achieved by reducing the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere, primarily by increasing energy efficiency and converting to renewable energy sources. It is also achieved by balancing the remaining carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered — that is, removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form — or offset by reducing emissions elsewhere.
Mount Holyoke College is pursuing the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by its bicentennial through a strategy of investing in energy efficiency, promoting energy conservation, retrofitting historic buildings and transitioning to carbon-neutral heating and electricity sources.
Climate change is a defining issue of our day. The global threat of warming temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather demands both serious study and decisive action to protect our Earth and its inhabitants. We share a collective responsibility to work toward a greener and more equitable world.
This new commitment builds on actions taken in 2017 by Acting President Sonya Stephens and thousands of others — college and university presidents, mayors, governors, CEOs and more — to sign the “We Are Still In” declaration. This statement supports the Paris Agreement’s global commitment to climate action despite the U.S. government’s decision to withdraw, and urges elected officials to put a price on carbon in order to spur reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The College has maintained a greenhouse gas inventory since 1900. Prior to 2017, the inventory measured direct emissions of greenhouse gases, electrical use, fuel use for heating and hot water and fuel use for fleet transportation. With this renewed commitment, the College now uses the Sustainability Indicator Management and Analysis Platform, known as SIMAP, to track its carbon footprint. Developed by the University of New Hampshire, this platform is the leading tool used by colleges and universities for inventorying greenhouse gas emissions. Beginning in 2017 the College now tracks Scope 1 (direct emissions from campus operation, e.g., heat production), Scope 2 (indirect emissions from sources that are neither owned nor operated by the college, e.g., electricity), and Scope 3 (other emissions attributable to campus operation (e.g., business travel, employee and student commuting) using the methodology established by the President’s Climate Leadership Commitments.
Mount Holyoke established its first climate change goal in 2004, when it joined the fight against global warming by entering into a partnership with Clean Air – Cool Planet, a leading organization in the region dedicated to finding and promoting solutions to global warming.
In signing the 2004 agreement, the College agreed to set a target for greenhouse gas reductions that was consistent with those established by the 2001 Regional Climate Action Plan and adopted by the governors of the six New England states and the premiers of the five eastern Canadian provinces. The plan established short-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the region to 1990 levels by 2010 and to a level 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The College met its 2010 Greenhouse Gas climate action goal of returning to 1990 emission levels by 2010.
Energy Saving Equipment and Policies
Residence Hall Cap Insulation
Recent renovations have greatly contributed to the energy efficiency of the MHC campus.
Occupancy sensors reduce energy consumption by automatically shutting off lights when rooms are empty.
Heating and Cooling Policy
Target temperature for academic and administrative areas during the heating season.
Science Energy Recovery System
In early 2007, an energy recovery loop was installed in the science complex to reclaim heating and cooling energy from the building exhaust.
Howard Gym Renovation
Mount Holyoke undertook the retrofit of gymnasium lighting in Summer 2005.
A soda machine, which runs 24/7, uses a lot of energy, about 10 times the electricity of a home refrigerator.