Carbon Neutrality

The most significant way to reduce the use of fossil fuels is to eliminate the demand for these energy sources. Vassar is proud to already be more than halfway to our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, reducing our carbon footprint from 30,550 in 2005 to just 15,000 in 2021. And we’re continuing to lay the groundwork for a long-term goal of sequestering more carbon than we emit to become Climate Positive.

Greenhouse gas emissions from heating and cooling have historically been the single biggest contributor to Vassar’s carbon footprint. Our strategy for reducing this source of emissions, put simply, is to burn less fossil fuel: in the near term, through partial electrification and a shift to renewable biofuel; in the long term, through a shift away from combustion-based heating entirely.

In our 2016 Climate Action Plan (CAP), Vassar committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. In its follow-up, the 2020 Climate Action Plan, we laid the foundation for Vassar to ultimately sequester more carbon than it emits, going beyond carbon-neutral to become climate-positive. Toward this end, the College has already reduced our carbon footprint from a baseline of 30,550 metric tons (mTons) of greenhouse gas in 2005 to just 15,000 mTons in 2021.

Vassar’s Climate Action Plan touches on all aspects of Vassar's operations, from how the College heats its buildings to how it treats its natural areas. Specific goals for Vassar included in the Climate Action Plan include:

  • Reducing Vassar’s combustion-based heating by over 60,000 MMBtu
  • Converting two of Vassar’s central boilers from natural gas as a feedstock to renewable fuel oil (RFO), a bio-fuel derived from sawdust and tree trimmings from sustainable timber operations
  • Reducing Vassar’s waste sent to the landfill by over 300 tons
  • Developing Restorative Land Management Guidelines for over 750 acres of the Vassar campus

Much of this work is already underway.

  • Vassar is already implementing its Near-Term Decarbonization Plan, a $13 million investment in steeply decreasing our carbon footprint by 2023.
  • As of July 1, 2021, all of Vassar's purchased electricity is 100% renewable.
  • All new building projects will use fully electric heating and cooling systems, with no reliance on fossil fuels or combustion. This includes the Vassar Institute for the Liberal Arts, as well as the planned Admission and Career Education Center.