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Dartmouth commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 09/29/08 • Media Contact: Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661 

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The College will invest $12.5 million to upgrade existing buildings and facilities


Dartmouth makes Sustainability Commitment to reduce greenhouse gases (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

President James Wright has strengthened Dartmouth's environmental commitment by announcing that the College will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent by the year 2030, starting with a pledge to a 20 percent reduction by 2015. The cornerstone of the plan is a $12.5 million investment over the next five to seven years in energy-saving upgrades to existing buildings.

"There is no doubt that energy, sustainability, and climate change will be the defining challenges of this century. Dartmouth, which has a long tradition of leadership on environmental issues, is proud to make this pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Wright said.

Wright has accepted the recommendation from the College's Energy Task Force calling for the College to reduce its total emissions from its 2005 level with the following targets:

  • By year 2015: 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels
  • By year 2020: 25 percent reduction from 2005 levels
  • By year 2030: 30 percent reduction from 2005 levels

At each milestone, the goal for the upcoming milestone will be reviewed and made more aggressive if possible.

"We need to address climate change at every level - international, national, and local," said Dartmouth Provost Barry Scherr, who will oversee the reduction plan. "Dartmouth's Energy Task Force has studied this issue, and I know we can reach our milestones."

The Board of Trustees has approved a $12.5 million investment to improve the energy efficiency of current facilities. Most of Dartmouth's new buildings incorporate modern technology to reduce energy consumption. The new investment will allow the College to bring older buildings up to Dartmouth's upgraded efficiency standards. The energy reduction plan also calls for changes to daily operations and for all members of the Dartmouth community to commit to serving as environmental stewards of the campus.

Dartmouth is widely recognized as a leader in the sustainability realm. For the third consecutive year, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has given Dartmouth an A- on their Sustainability Report Card. This is the highest grade granted, and Dartmouth is one of only 15 schools to get this impressive mark this year.

Dartmouth is initially committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, rather than buying "offsets" or "carbon credits" from a third party. Dartmouth's Energy Task Force has encouraged the College to invest in its own operations first. Appointed in the spring of 2007 by Provost Scherr, the Energy Task Force was comprised of students, faculty, and staff, and it was co-chaired by Ken Packard, the assistant director of engineering and utilities in the Facilities Operations and Management Department, and Matt Purcell, the associate director of the Planning, Design, and Construction Department.

"While the College could buy offsets and declare higher emissions reductions, Dartmouth will first focus on cutting our own energy use and carbon emissions right here in Hanover," said President Wright. "Given the cost of fossil fuels, this is a good environmental model and a good business model."

Being "green" is a longstanding tradition at Dartmouth:

  • Given the harsh New England climate, Dartmouth has for decades invested in tight building envelopes, triple-pane windows, and efficient heating systems.
  • The Dartmouth Outing Club, active since 1909, has long encouraged students to experience, appreciate, and care for the outdoors, including the nearly 5,000 acres of Dartmouth property at Mt. Moosilauke in central New Hampshire.
  • More than 100 years ago, in 1904, the College began co-generating its own electricity, and currently generates more than 40 percent of its power.
  • Dartmouth sustainably manages its 26,800-acre forest at the Second College Grant, and wood harvested there is used to make furniture for students' rooms and other College facilities.
  • Dartmouth is a primary supporter of public transportation in the region.
  • Dartmouth students built The Big Green Bus, a school bus retro-fitted with an engine that runs on waste vegetable oil. Since 2005, students make an annual cross country trip to increase awareness of climate change.
  • In the fall of 2008, Dartmouth introduced a new Sustainable Living Center for students interested in an eco-conscious housing alternative. Residents pledge to reduce their environmental impact by minimizing energy use and waste and engage in academic and social programs focused on sustainability.

For more than 30 years, Dartmouth has excelled in research and teaching the environmental sciences.

"Operationally and academically, Dartmouth has long been an environmental steward," said Professor of Environmental Studies Andy Friedland, a member of the College's Energy Task Force. "Dartmouth faculty and students are committed to advancing knowledge in the area of environment and sustainability.  I am most impressed with Dartmouth's strong commitment to reducing its environmental impact at home rather than purchasing offsets or subsidizing renewable energy projects far from campus. With this approach, I believe the College is demonstrating true leadership in this emerging field."

Dartmouth scientists at Hubbard Brook Experiemental Forest in 1964
Dartmouth scientists at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in 1964 (courtesy Rauner Library)

Academic strengths include:

  • Dartmouth faculty co-founded the internationally known Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest and introduced the world to the term acid rain. Their seminal work, beginning in the early 1960s, on complex ecosystem dynamics worldwide continues to this day.
  • More than 30 percent of Dartmouth students take courses or conduct independent research with environmental faculty. Numerous Dartmouth alumni are leaders in research, teaching, and policy making regarding the environment, sustainability, and energy around the world.
  • Six Dartmouth environmental scientists (former faculty and students) are members of one of the National Academies, and more than 50 members of the faculty from across the institution conduct important research in areas such as biodiversity, sustainability, conservation, forest ecology, water resources, environmental and human health, and energy.
  • In 1970 Dartmouth established one of the country's first interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program. Today the program is dedicated to investigating and teaching ecological and social systems and providing students with opportunities to assess and understand the natural workings of our planet.
  • Dartmouth's interdisciplinary Superfund Basic Research Program, established in 1995, has received more than $35 million to study the relationship between toxic metals in the environment and human health.
  • "Energy Technologies" is one of three research focus areas of Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. Thayer School researchers tackle a range of projects-from biomass processing to power electronics optimization.

Dean of the Faculty and The Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences Carol Folt said, "The Dartmouth family of students, faculty, and alumni includes many environmental leaders. At no time in the nation's history has the need for environmental leadership been greater. I am extremely proud of them and of Dartmouth's commitment to sustainability in all facets of its mission."

Dartmouth is also a member of AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a member organization of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Its mission, according to its website, is "to promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education - from governance and operations to curriculum and outreach - through education, communication, research and professional development."

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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