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.
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 committed to further reducing its emissions by 15-30% by 2035 in its report of working group on sustainability during the college wide strategic planning effort in 2019-2020 and it is continuing to explore possibilities for decarbonization during the 2021 spring semester.