Climate Action

Taking Action in a Changing Climate

In 2005 Yale committed to a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 43% below 2005 levels by 2020.  To achieve this goal, and become carbon neutral by 2050, we are reducing energy use in buildings through conservation and efficiency, adhering to sustainable construction and renovation standards for buildings, increasing efficiency in Yale’s on-campus power plants, and promoting behavioral shifts by campus users.


Yale’s Efforts

  • We strive for responsible energy use through conservation, efficiency upgrades, and creative approaches to campus use.
  • We ensure energy generated in Yale’s Power Plants and through renewable sources is as efficient as possible.
  • The Carbon Offsets Task Force, a group of students, faculty, and staff, is working to develop recommendations for University leadership. They are creating criteria for meaningful offsets and an operational structure to support a carbon offsets program at Yale. 

What You Can Do

Our Objectives and Goals

Achieve carbon neutrality for Yale University by or before 2050

The University has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 43% below 2005 levels by 2020, and to achieving carbon neutrality by or before 2050. Carbon offsets represent one part of the mix of strategies to achieve carbon neutrality. The Carbon Offsets Task Force—a group of students, faculty, and staff—formed in the Spring of 2017 and recommended an actionable policy that would guide the use of carbon offsets, including criteria for meaningful offsets, pace of acquisition and retirement of offsets, and a governance structure to support an ongoing program. 

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2017 - June 2018: 
Goal: 

GHG Emissions Reduction Commitment

ON TRACK

By 2020, meet or exceed the 2005 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels. 

Progress: 

Facilities pursues energy savings through capital projects and operational improvements. Energy Management formulated and implemented more than 20 individual energy conservation measures across multiple campus buildings. These projects will reduce emissions approximately 3,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually with positive financial returns. Since 2005, Yale has decreased its GHG emissions by 23%, despite a 18.5% increase in campus size.

Goal: 

Carbon Neutrality Strategy

ON TRACK

By 2019, develop a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by or before 2050.

Progress: 

Yale Facilities set an interim 2025 GHG emissions reduction target to help lead the campus to carbon neutrality. Ongoing reductions strategies include: continued investments in energy conservation, onsite renewable energy, and transportation; new strategies to contain campus demand and growth through carbon pricing; a space utilization policy; and an emissions reduction commitment through the University capital program. Research on the energy future in New England will inform long-term utility planning and investments in carbon offsets. 

Goal: 

Scope 3 Emissions Reduction Program

ON TRACK

By 2020, develop a program and related technology to account for, reduce, and offset emissions from University events and travel to position Yale to set a Scope 3 emissions reduction commitment.
 
Progress: 

Based on a comprehensive assessment of scope 3 categories, we collected and analyzed emissions data associated with employee commuting, air travel, purchased goods and services, capital goods, waste, and downstream assets. This provided a high-level order of magnitude; next steps include more granular data collection and analysis.

Mitigation and Adaptation

Develop, test, and share climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in support of overall regional resilience.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2017 - June 2018: 
Goal: 

Campus Resilience Plan

WE COULD DO BETTER

By 2019, create a campus resilience plan that aligns with local and regional adaptation approaches for resiliency. 

Progress: 

A Yale Sustainability Fellow conducted research on resilience planning frameworks and interviewed key stakeholders from expert organizations and peer institutions. A proposal for evaluating risks and developing strategies to enhance the resilience of Yale’s operations through infrastructure enhancements, capacity building, and academic connections is under review by senior leadership.

Investment Opportunities

Incorporate the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and possible governmental responses to climate change in the evaluation of investment opportunities.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2017 - June 2018: 
Goal: 

Yale Investments and Climate Change

ON TRACK

Encourage Yale’s external investment managers to consider the risks and opportunities associated with climate change in their investment processes with respect to Yale’s portfolio.

Progress: 

Yale continues to work with endowment investment managers to consider the economic impact and risks of climate change on investments.  This influences managers’ investment decisions and discussions with portfolio company executives. Yale is exploring non-endowment investment options related to carbon reduction.