Our Commitment to Climate Action Skip Navigation

Our Commitment

Colgate established an ambitious target to be climate neutral by 2019, the university’s 200th anniversary.
Student walking to Case in the winter.

Presidents’ Climate Commitment

In January 2009, Colgate became a signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

By signing the commitment, Colgate pledged to complete a baseline inventory of emissions, take immediate short-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make sustainability a component of our formal curriculum, and create a step-by-step plan with measurable goals including a target date for reaching climate neutrality.

Climate Action Plan

In 2011, we completed our Sustainability and Climate Action Plan — our road map for climate neutrality by 2019.

Bicentennial Plan

In 2017, we completed our Bicentennial Plan to pave the way for a sustainable and carbon neutral campus. 

Climate Action Updates

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A sprouting plant.

13 Sustainable Initiatives

Here are some stories tracking developments in our quest for carbon neutrality. We have:
1. Became a signatory to Second Nature's Carbon Commitment and pledged to be carbon neutral by our bicentennial in 2019.

2. Constructed LEED Certified buildings including Trudy Fitness Center and Class of 1965 Arena.

3. Began composting food scraps and implemented trayless dining in Frank Dining Hall.

4. Recycled electronic waste such as TVs, computers, and printers from more than fifteen     e-waste recycling stations on campus.

5. Launched the Annual Green Summit, Colgate's longest running environmental symposium wherein students, faculty, staff and community members come together and explore the concept and practice of sustainability at Colgate and beyond.

6. Certified Colgate's 1,000+ acres of forested   land for long-term sustainable management and established protocol for measuring forest carbon and annual sequestration.

7. Broke ground for Colgate's Community Garden and welcomed honey bees to the garden.
8. Upgraded the biomass heating plant and planted 60,000 fast-growing willow shoots to grow our own energy. 

9. Installed a geothermal energy system beneath the Chapel House. 

10. Hired Green Raider student interns to work collaboratively in inspiring sustainable behavior within the Colgate community. 

11. Installed a solar thermal array in 100 Broad Street to produce hot water throughout the building.

12. Committed to Patagonia Sur's Carbon Offset Program in southern Chile, providing Colgate 5,000 tons of forestry-based carbon offsets per year until 2028. Furthermore, it provides extensive learning opportunities for students. 

13. Expanded the Green Bikes Program to provide Colgate students with an inexpensive and convenient option to decrease reliance on automobiles. 

Patagonia Sur

As part of ambitious effort to be carbon neutral by 2019, Colgate has signed onto a 15-year commitment  with Patagonia Sur, purchasing 225,000 native-species trees that will be planted on 430 acres of land in Chile’s Aysén Region of Patagonia. The University's forest-based carbon offset is estimated to sequester 5,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually and plays a critical role in helping to reduce Colgate’s ecological footprint while support forest restoration efforts in some of the most impacted communities. An extended study is scheduled to take place in January 2018 led by Associate Professor of Biology Eddie Watkins and Sustainability Director John Pumilio. The 22-day, half-credit trip will be part of an environmental studies class focusing on natural resource conservation, providing students with the opportunity to learn about forest conservation efforts and visit the Colgate Forest.  


Sustainability Council

The Sustainability Council is comprised of students, faculty, and staff that serves as an advisory committee to the president about all aspects of sustainability on campus. Throughout the year, the council works on sustainability initiatives in collaboration with several departments and programs such as Buildings & Grounds , the Environmental Studies academic program, The Dean of Faculty, and Chartwells, Colgate’s main dining service provider.

If you have any comments or suggestions for Colgate's sustainability program and initiatives, contact the Sustainability Council.