Carbon Neutrality

Making Neutrality a Reality

Climate change poses a very real and present threat to our planet. By reducing carbon emissions on campus, we limit our own contributions to this problem and also hope to inspire others to do the same.

Middlebury began reducing its carbon footprint in 2001. Its first major step was a resolution to lower all carbon emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 based on a major report produced by a J-Term class for the Environmental Council. When that goal was within sight, the board approved a student-driven proposal to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2016. The full resolution is available here.

Among its many efficiency projects on campus, Middlebury completed construction of a biomass gasification plant in late 2008. The biomass plant, which burns locally-sourced wood chips, meets most of the heating and cooling needs on campus and co-generates 15 to 20% of our electricity all while remaining carbon neutral. Switching from fuel oil to biomass cut Middlebury's carbon footprint by 40 to 50%.

In 2014 the Trustees approved a plan to conserve 2,100 acres of Middlebury’s Bread Loaf campus in perpetuity. Blue Source, a carbon accounting company, assessed the land and quantified carbon credits based on the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by the Bread Loaf forests. A portion of these carbon credits was used to offset the remaining portion of our carbon footprint after biomass and other carbon-reducing changes on campus. See a full timeline to carbon neutrality here.

Tracking Our Progress

Each year, Middlebury’s Office of Sustainability Integration conducts a greenhouse-gas inventory, tracking emissions from five sources: heating and cooling, College-funded travel, waste, electricity, and College-owned vehicles.