The Climate Change & Energy category focuses on initiatives to improve energy efficiency and conservation, as well as on efforts to obtain energy from renewable sources. This may include conservation campaigns that encourage college community members to monitor their energy consumption; retrofits of appliances or power plants to make use of energy-efficient technology; conducting a carbon emissions inventory and committing to emissions reduction goals (such as signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment); and making use of renewable energy, either through direct purchases of renewable energy credits or through onsite installation of clean energy resources. Points are also given to colleges that have made renewable energy investments with the potential to benefit the community beyond campus, such as public-private partnerships for off-campus development of renewable energy projects.
Almost half the schools have made a commitment to reducing their carbon emissions. Thirty percent of schools have committed to carbon neutrality in the long-term by signing the Presidents Climate Commitment, while an additional 15 percent have made other pledges to reduce their respective carbon footprints.
- More than one in three schools purchase renewable energy. A significant number of schools (37 percent) either purchase renewable energy directly from their utility provider or buy renewable energy credits equivalent to a percentage of their campus energy use.
- Seven schools purchase 100 percent of their electricity consumption from renewable sources. Bowdoin College, Colby College, New York University, Oregon State University, University of California–Santa Cruz, University of Oklahoma, and University of Washington derive 100 percent of their electricity consumption from renewable sources (mostly wind and small-scale, low-impact hydroelectric) or compensate for their fossil-fuel derived electricity use by purchasing renewable energy credits (i.e., an investment in renewable energy equal to the amount of energy purchased from the grid).
- The average grade for the Climate Change & Energy category was "C." For a full account of school performance by grade, please refer to the chart on the next page.
Almost half the schools have made a commitment to reducing their carbon emissions.