Scope and Scale of Carbon Mitigation Planning at American Universities

By David Goldsmith and Robert Ries.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The American College and University President’s Climate Commitment program has created a set of planning guidelines for their member institutions to use to develop strategic plans to reach campus-wide carbon neutrality before 2050. As small planned communities, colleges and universities represent a unique opportunity for study: campuses have motivated and capable members, and the resources to implement bold and substantive efforts to reach their carbon neutrality goals. The carbon mitigation plans submitted by institutions participating in the Climate Commitment program provide a set of consistent data to gauge the plan of each institution and compare the planning efforts of the participating institutions. Participating American colleges and universities carbon mitigation plans are long-term efforts spanning forty years and presumably many economic, social, technical, and administrative generations. This ambitious planning effort will represent a dramatic and structural change to the way colleges and universities operate over the next half century and may serve as a model for businesses and multiple levels of government. At this early stage of implementation, it is meaningful to examine the why and how of these efforts and whether their stated goals are achievable given their proposed efforts. This paper will assess American colleges’ and universities’ carbon mitigation plans within the framework of structural institutional change, with emphasis on potential forthcoming changes to the institutions stemming from their commitments to carbon emissions mitigation. Analysis of structural change and institutional motivation come from an extensive quantitative study of these planning efforts, methodologies, and motivations spanning all participating institutions.

Keywords: Carbon Neutrality, Carbon Mitigation, Institutional Planning, Sustainability, Emissions

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.41-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1012.181KB).

Dr. David Goldsmith

Dean's Alumni Fellow, M. E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction, College of Design Construction and Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

Robert Ries

Director and Associate Professor, M. E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction, College of Design Construction and Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA