Transportation accounts for a substantial share of Williams College’s greenhouse gas emissions. This includes emissions from college-owned vehicles (part of scope 1) and emissions associated with employee commuting, business travel, and student travel that is part of educational and athletic activities (all covered under scope 3). The lack of more sustainable transportation options not only contributes to climate change but can also result in increased congestion, air pollution, and negative health effects. However, there are ways to make informed transportation choices that are more climate- and environmentally-friendly.
Reducing Emissions from Transportation
Sustainability was included as one of eight working groups in the college’s strategic planning process during the 2019-2020 academic year and became a cross-cutting theme–along with DEI–in the final Strategic Plan released in 2021. The sustainability working group wrote a report that includes recommendations regarding transportation in the Climate Action section on pages 21-25. Drawing on these deliberations, the Zilkha Center works with campus partners to develop strategies for reducing greenhouse gases from transportation.
A new program was launched in October 2022 that informs business travelers of their flight emissions and shares options for greening such travel. Another project undertaken by the Zilkha Center in collaboration with the Office of International Education estimated the emissions associated with Study Away and developed informational resources for students on how to mitigate their environmental impacts while pursuing these exciting opportunities.
A future area of work is to develop protocols for estimating GHG emissions from employee commuting and including them in the college’s GHG data collection.