Carbon Neutrality 2037

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 of direct emissions of greenhouse gases, electrical use, fuel use for heating, and fuel use for fleet transportation that goes back to 1990. With this renewed commitment, the College has joined the Sustainability Indicator Management and  Analysis Platform, known as SIMAP, community to improve tracking 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.

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 News

Students on the campus of Mount Holyoke College. Photo by Michael Malyszko.

Greening projects enhance labs and facilities

Through the Mass. College Green Initiative, Mount Holyoke is poised to save more than $580,000 with energy-efficiency projects in five campus buildings.
Green Revolving Fund

Green Revolving Fund Established

Providing funding to implement energy conservation, renewable energy and other sustainability projects that reduce resource use and generate cost savings.

Where Does Campus Electricity Come From?
Find out how the campus fits into the electric grid.

MHC Energy Use
Energy use since 1990 corrected for total building square footage.

Building Energy Use
Electrical use by building for fiscal year 2013.

Residence Hall Cap Insulation
Recent renovations have greatly contributed to the energy efficiency of the MHC campus.

Occupancy Sensors
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.

Vending Misers
A soda machine, which runs 24/7, uses a lot of energy, about 10 times the electricity of a home refrigerator.

Get Involved

Save energy

Learn how to save energy in the residence halls, in the laundry room, around campus and getting around.

Participate in the War of the Watts

Learn about the annual inter-hall electricity conservation competition sponsored by Eco-Reps, the Green Living Council and Facilities Management.

Learn the truth to some common energy myths

Is an appliance still using electricity when turned off? Learn the answers to this and other myths about energy consumption.

Practice green computing

Save energy and the environment by following these tips when your computer equipment is not in use.

Make your office eco-friendly

Small actions repeated every day can significantly reduce the environmental impact of our work.