Update on Carbon Offset Purchases

In 2015, President Adam Falk and the Board of Trustees expanded the college’s commitment to address climate change by including carbon offset purchases to “neutralize” the college’s net GHG emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in 2020.

Building on the work by the Carbon Offset Task Force, the college, via the Zilkha Center, has partnered with offset broker Cool Effect and since fiscal year 2020 matched its assessed net GHG emissions with an equal number of offsets (more information about the offset strategy and purchases is available here).

Although the 2021 Strategic Plan commits the college to “[m]aintaining carbon neutrality with a view toward achieving net-zero emissions through investment in high-quality, verified carbon offsets and carbon removal,” we are fully aware of the significant issues impacting the quality and validity of many types of offsets traded in the voluntary carbon market.

We share information about the offsets we have purchased and limitations in our GHG emissions inventory and have renewed our efforts to identify high-quality, verifiable carbon offsets. For FY23 we have allocated previously purchased and “banked” offsets as shown in the table below.

Table 1: Description of offsets allocated to “neutralize” assessed fiscal 2023 GHG emissions.

Going forward, we are evaluating new investments in renewable energy generation, opportunities to invest in the twin goals of supporting local communities through carbon mitigation, and participating in the compliance carbon market. We are also in conversations with several regional peer institutions that have carbon neutrality goals and are similarly interested in transparent and effective carbon offset management.