Carleton signed on the American College and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC, now Second Nature) in 2007. This pledge called on Carleton to set a carbon reduction goal and create a climate action plan. Carleton’s goal is to become carbon free by 2050 and many strategies are laid out in the 2011 Climate Action Plan.

The Sustainability Office uses a baseline of 2008 from which we measure our annual carbon emissions data in fiscal years, FY, (July 1 to June 30). Our emissions are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE) and divided into three “scopes.”

Scope 1: Emissions burned on-site and used on-site. The most common forms of this are natural gas for heating campus and fuel in our fleet vehicles.

Scope 2: Emissions burned off-site and used on-site. Purchased electricity is the main source of emissions in this category.

Scope 3: Emissions burned off-site and used off-site. This category includes air travel, faculty and staff commuting, waste, wastewater, and paper use. The emissions from these areas weren’t produced on campus, but Carleton claims them as our campus operation would not flourish without these things.

Campus Emissions FY08 to FY19

Campus emissions FY08-FY19

Since 2008, Carleton has reduced its emissions by 34% and we are on track to meet our first interim goal of 17,000 MTCDE by FY20!

We expect to hit this target largely due to the transformation of our campus utility system from 100 year-old steam to hot-water geothermal. While this will increase our Scope 2 emissions (electricity), our Scope 1 (natural gas) will drop dramatically. The Utility Master Plan is scheduled to be complete in FY22.