Ithaca College has made the important decision to transition its electricity supply exclusively to clean and renewable sources, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and helping move the college toward its goal of becoming carbon neutral.
Since February 2018, 100% of the college’s electricity has been purchased from Green-e certified national wind farms. The move will offset around 7,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year — roughly 35% of IC’s total emissions.
“This is a major step closer to our institution’s stated goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, and an important way that our college community can demonstrate our commitment to a critical issue that affects us locally and globally,” said Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado.
In August 2017, Collado asked the Office of Facilities to convene a Climate Action Plan Reassessment Team, comprising faculty, students and staff, in order to assess the college’s progress in meeting the goals established originally in its 2009 Climate Action Plan. Based on research performed by the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability, the reassessment team recommended to President Collado that IC purchase all of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.
“The strong work of the Climate Action Plan Reassessment Team is a continuation of Ithaca College’s deep and proud history around environmental stewardship and sustainability,” said Collado. “I was thrilled to support their recommendation.”
The team continues to research what additional steps could be taken toward carbon neutrality and whether the college’s 2050 timeline can be moved forward.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides standards, guidance, tools and training for organizations to measure and manage climate-warming emissions. It classifies emissions into three “scopes.”
Since November 2016, IC has been receiving the equivalent of 10 percent of its annual electricity from a solar array. That electricity will now be applied toward offsetting the college’s “Scope 3” emissions, which are defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol as “emissions that are a consequence of the operations of an organization, but are not directly owned or controlled by the organization.” This includes carbon emissions associated with employees and students commuting to and from campus and taking college-related trips.
“Scope 2” emissions are defined as those that come “from the consumption of purchased electricity, steam, or other sources of energy (e.g., chilled water) generated upstream from the organization.” By purchasing electricity from the wind farms, IC’s Scope 2 emissions are completely eliminated.
The switch to all renewables is expected to increase electricity costs to the college by just 1.5 percent, or $35,000 per year.
IC’s current contract for wind-generated electricity runs through December 2020. Tim Carey, associate vice president for facilities, said that future contracts will also be for exclusively renewable sources, barring unforeseen changes to their availability.
The college is a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and Second Nature, and has been consistently named in the Princeton Review’s list of top “green” colleges.
In 2011, Ithaca College became just the second academic institution in the world to have two newly constructed buildings earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council when the Peggy Ryan Williams Center joined the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise in achieving that designation. The Athletics & Events Center and Classroom Link corridor have both earned LEED Gold.
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