Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Reduce net greenhouse gas emissions 35% below 1990 levels

Three construction workers are seen at work through a large window.

To accomplish its emissions reductions goal, the college both launched and continued a number of initiatives and investments on campus and beyond, including lowering energy use in existing buildings; applying ambitious energy efficiency targets to new construction projects; developing new on- and off-campus solar electricity generation projects; and purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) and carbon offsets. Separate from its own emission reduction efforts, Williams also invested in local carbon reduction projects that benefit the larger community.

Despite these efforts, the college failed to meet the 35% reduction goal, mainly due to emissions from campus combustion and travel. In addition, the new collaborative solar photovoltaic farm in Farmington, Maine, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from purchased electricity by an estimated 4,700 metric tonnes or 80-90%, was delayed. The facility is now expected to launch in the fall of 2021. At the same time, pandemic restrictions led to a noticeable reduction in travel-related emissions and some savings in campus electricity, heating and cooling demand, and associated emissions.

A stacked bar chart showing Williams College's GHG emissions data from 1990 to 2020 for scopes 1, 2 and 3