In April of 2019, Colgate’s Bicentennial year, the University became the first higher education institution in New York State to achieve carbon neutrality.


There is still more to be done and our journey continues.

What Carbon Neutrality Means

Since 2009, Colgate has reduced its campus carbon footprint by over 40 percent. Achieving carbon neutrality means that the University is committed to balancing its remaining on-campus carbon emissions by investing in off-campus carbon reduction projects (carbon offsets) so that its net carbon footprint is zero. Reducing the output of on-campus carbon emissions remains a top Colgate priority.

Achieving carbon neutrality entailed three key approaches from the University:

The first step in taking ownership of and countering the University’s contributions to climate change is to take stock of Colgate’s carbon footprint. Every year since 2009, Colgate has completed an inventory of  greenhouse gas emissions.

View all inventories

For over a decade, Colgate has been striving to reduce its direct output of greenhouse gases through the use of renewable energy and low-carbon fuels, increased recycling and composting, decreasing water and electricity consumption, green buildings, and much more.

Although the University has made remarkable progress in reducing its campus carbon emissions, that number is not zero. The University continues its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint with strategies like reducing transportation emissions, but in the immediate term in order to achieve carbon neutrality, the University invests in carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are investments in off-campus projects that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or prevent emissions from happening in the first place.

More About Carbon Offsets

Continuing Efforts

A walking path through Colgate forested lands blanked in leaves during autumn
Colgate is helping to lead the way in forest carbon management.

While Colgate has met its goal of achieving carbon neutrality, this is just the beginning. Entering its third century, the University will continue its hard work to reduce on-campus emissions even further and minimize reliance on offsets, serving as a model for other institutions of higher education.

Sustainability Council

The Colgate Sustainability Council is a group of Colgate students, faculty, and staff who guide the priorities of the University’s sustainability program. As stewards of the University’s Sustainability Fund and Green Revolving Loan Fund, the council directs resources towards those projects and initiatives that continue reducing Colgate’s carbon emissions and overall environmental impact.

About the Sustainability Council

Green Revolving Loan Fund

The Green Revolving Loan Fund is an initiative geared toward reducing the University’s carbon footprint by funding projects at the University that reduce emissions while also providing a financial return on the initial investment. Savings from each funded project are reinvested in the fund to support its future projects.

About the Green Revolving Loan Fund

Land and Forest Stewardship

Colgate recognizes that forest carbon storage and sequestration is among the many values of the University’s forested lands. Well-managed forests are an important solution to climate change, and Colgate is helping to lead the way in forest carbon management.

About land and forest stewardship

Support the Effort

The contributions and efforts of the Colgate community are vital in making progress toward Colgate’s sustainability. Consider supporting sustainable projects in the following ways:

Get Involved

Colgate’s steady improvements in sustainability over time are only possible with leadership and involvement of members of the Colgate community.

Make a Gift

Financial contributions to campus sustainability support projects and initiatives spearheaded by Colgate students, faculty, and staff.

Make a gift

Where to direct your gift:

  • Sustainability Fund
  • Green Revolving Loan Fund