Key events for carbon neutrality and biomass at Middlebury

1999
College identifies climate change as significant threat to be addressed on campus.

2001
College releases Environmental Peak Report, a strategic plan for environmental education and campus sustainability at Middlebury with a recommendation to “adopt a net zero emission, carbon neutral goal for the college.”

College’s first emissions inventory conducted as a student internship and senior thesis in collaboration with Clean Air – Cool Planet.

2002
College’s Environmental Council proposes Carbon Reduction Initiative (CRI).

Environmental Council forms subcommittee, the CRI Working Group, to explore carbon neutrality.

2003
College president commissions the Environmental Peak of Excellence White Paper, which recommends reducing CO2 emissions through a plan created by CRI and supported by the trustees.

CRI Working Group identifies single greatest reduction in the college’s greenhouse gas footprint as burning #6 fuel oil. A subgroup begins looking at alternatives to oil.

Winter term course on “Scientific and Institutional Challenges of Becoming Carbon Neutral” forms to serve as consultants to CRI Working Group. Course issues 200-page report titled “Carbon Neutrality at Middlebury College,” which maps out possible strategies for becoming carbon neutral

CRI working group recommends to president’s executive council a preliminary goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels by 2012.

2004
Board of trustees endorses initial carbon reduction goal proposed by CRI.

2005
Winter term course “Building the New Climate Movement” holds climate change conference at Middlebury

Sunday Night Group, a student environmental activists’ group forms with focus on climate change.

2006
Board of trustees approves proposal for biomass plant submitted by subgroup of CRI.

Students propose new, more aggressive goal of carbon neutrality by fall 2016. Team of administrators and staff work with students to strengthen their recommendation.

Sustainability Office develops a standardized annual greenhouse gas inventory and reporting system with assistance from students at request of Environmental Council and CRI.

2007
Trustees adopt resolution for college to become carbon neutral by 2016.

President Ronald D. Liebowitz signs American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Construction begins on biomass gasification plant.

2008
Carbon neutrality implementation plan adopted by president’s staff council.

Biomass gasification plant completed, test burning begins.

2009
Biomass plant begins full operation. Plant will replace more than 1 million gallons of #6 heating oil annually with locally sourced wood chips and reduce college’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.