Middlebury College's Commitment to Carbon Reduction

Endorsed by the Trustees on May 8, 2004


In recognition that:

The Environment is a Peak of Excellence.
Environmental education and sustainable practices are continuing traditions that radiate throughout and beyond this institution.  Environmental Studies, one of the largest majors, draws some of the most committed environmental thinkers to its undergraduate program.  Campus sustainability initiatives from recycling to composting to sustainable design and construction bring constant acclaim to the institution while integrating environmental awareness and responsibility into the daily life of the institution.  Middlebury is in a respected position to share this expertise and infuse ideas for environmental excellence amongst our campus community and alumni, peer institutions, and the professionals with whom we work.

"Everything we do is an opportunity to educate."(1)
The solutions to global warming and climate change require innovative thinking within a global and local context.  Middlebury College is positioned, through its academic and institutional strengths, to rise to this challenge by applying the collective motivated intellects of its students, faculty, staff, administration, governing body, and graduates.  The shift away from a worldwide fossil fuel based economy will require the best of the liberal arts tradition.

Responsible leadership is a guiding principle of Middlebury College.
The College "expects its graduates to be thoughtful, ethical leaders able to meet the challenges of informed citizenship.  They should be independent thinkers, committed to service, with the courage to follow their convictions and prepared to accept responsibility for their actions."(2) If ever there has been a call for leadership, it is now.  Carbon reduction must be a goal in every planning process to ensure a broader articulation of risks and opportunities and enabling more informed decisions for the College's future within the context of climate change.

The College burns significant quantities of fossil fuels.
In 2000-2001, the College consumed 1.7 million gallons of #6 oil, 390.5 thousand gallons of #2 oil, 71.5 thousand gallons of diesel, 70 thousand gallons of gasoline, and 22.6 million KWH of electricity.  A greenhouse gas emissions inventory calculating the impact from heating and cooling, electricity use, transportation, and solid waste disposal identified that 35,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were emitted to the atmosphere from campus operations in FY 00-01.

The College is preparing to replace a boiler.
Three quarters of the College's carbon emissions are the result of space heating and cooling.  Fossil fuel use is not sustainable.  A new boiler has an average life of forty years and the College's boilers were installed in 1963, 1968, 1985, and 1998.  Reliable technology incorporating renewable and cleaner energy sources available in Vermont and domestically offer opportunities to significantly decrease the College's contribution to global warming.

The New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP) have called on institutions of higher learning to respond and provide models for meeting the unprecedented and imminent challenge of global warming. 
The NEG/ECP developed a Climate Change Action Plan (Plan) in 2001 that commits these states and provinces to reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% below 1990 emissions by 2020. They have asked colleges and universities to lead the way by signing on to the broad goals of the Plan and to work within their own institutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2012.  In August 2003, President McCardell signed a voluntary pledge committing Middlebury College to support the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in meeting the goals of its Plan.  Middlebury's Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group believes that the voluntary goal is realistically attainable and a responsible pursuit.

Immediate and longer-term strategies exist for carbon reduction.
Students in Winter Term class ES 010 "The Scientific and Institutional Challenges of Becoming Carbon Neutral" created a 200-page report summarizing fifty strategies to minimize campus climate impact.  The Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group synthesized a sub-group of these and other strategies into an initial carbon reduction portfolio that will target heating and cooling, electricity use, transportation, the generation of waste, and offsets and sequestration.

Long-term sustainability is a wise investment
In developing strategies for reducing carbon emissions, the College commits to investing in a portfolio that, when considered as a whole, is cost neutral including capital costs.

The Trustees of Middlebury College therefore support carbon reduction as a priority of the Middlebury College community, recognizing that it will require a commitment of resources to achieve necessary technological and behavioral shifts.

We join with the College's administration, students, faculty, staff, and alumni in the dedication of intellectual and fiscal capital to responsibly engage in this paradigm shift away from our fossil fuel dependency.

We endorse the College's Carbon Reduction Initiative Working Group's initial target goal of reducing College greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels by 2012, adjusted on a student (per capita) basis, and recognize that at present levels of energy use, this will require attaining carbon emission levels 35% below FY 00-01 levels by 2012.  We believe in our call to leadership and charge the College with developing a sound plan for attaining this or greater levels of carbon reduction, integrating a series of strategies that ultimately advance sustainability for this institution and our planet.

(1) President John M. McCardell, Jr.
(2) Excerpt from Middlebury College Mission Statement

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753