In 2019-2020, Williams College engaged Integral Group to develop and evaluate viable pathways to modernize its energy system and create a carbon neutral campus by 2050 (the college began purchasing carbon offsets in FY20 to ‘neutralize’ its net fiscal year emissions).
Core project goals:
• Cost effective from a life-cycle cost perspective
• Technically sound and reliable — providing long-term and flexible zero-carbon solutions
• Resilient to a multitude of external risks, including climate change, the availability and affordability of zero carbon fuels and energy sources, and economic and policy factors
Integral’s work focused on the district energy system that supplies most of the heat and cooling to the campus’s 2.5 million square feet of real estate. At present, the college’s thermal needs are largely met by a natural- gas-fired cogeneration plant. Because natural gas has a fixed carbon content and greenhouse gas intensity, successful solutions need to either reduce the amount of fuel burned through electrification (combined with renewable electricity) and/or switch to burning a carbon neutral fuel.
The college’s Sustainability Working Group recommended further reducing campus emissions by 15-30% by 2035 compared with 2022 emissions in its report prepared in 2019-2020 for the college wide strategic planning effort.