Carbon Neutrality

American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)

Oberlin took a leadership role in environmental stewardship it became one of the nation’s first institutions of higher education to accept the goal of climate neutrality by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

As a charter signatory, Oberlin was one of the first four schools in the United States and the first in its peer group to sign the ACUPCC, an environmental initiative developed by Second Nature, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and ecoAmerica to address what they term "the defining challenge of our century—the twin crises of energy sustainability and climate change."

Building on the growing momentum of action on climate change, the ACUPCC provides a framework and supporting mechanisms for America’s colleges and universities to rapidly accelerate this effort. It capitalizes on the critical role of colleges and universities to serve as examples for their communities and to train the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming.

Signatories to the ACUPCC pledge to commit their institutions to making the transition to a climate neutral society a major priority.

Oberlin College's target carbon neutrality date is 2025.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

As part of the ACUPCC commitment, Oberlin College is regularly conducts inventories of all greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, heating, air travel and commuting.

Energy Study for Campus Climate Action Plan

Oberlin College seeks to maintain and expand its role as a national leader in campus sustainability. Energy Ventures International was hired to conduct a comprehensive design and engineering study to develop the energy component of Oberlin College’s 2009 Climate Action Plan. The purpose of this study, commissioned by Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, was to explore and assess costs and benefits of the options available for reducing CO2 emissions associated with energy use. The CES (Committee for Environmental Sustainability) had, through previous research, identified three areas which they felt present the greatest potential for CO2 emissions reductions (and potentially offsets). They are 1) conversion and/or replacement/or reduction in dependency of what is currently a coal-fired central heating plant (CHP), 2) adoption of energy efficiency and sustainability measures in the technologies and management of buildings and equipment (both heating and electricity) and 3) purchasing and/or producing electricity with low carbon emissions intensity. Additional important components of Oberlin’s Climate Neutral Plan will address environmentally sustainable transportation, grounds, purchasing and food.

Campus Climate Action Plan

Following the completion of the College’s first greenhouse gas inventory, the Office of Environmental Sustainability worked with the Committee on Environmental Sustainability to develop a comprehensive Campus Climate Action Plan. This plan assesses the impacts of the college’s current level of emissions, develop indicators and targets for continual improvement and outline a specific implementation plan and priorities for improvement. In 2009, Oberlin submitted A Plan to be Carbon Neutral that set a target of carbon neutrality by 2025.

OES is working with multiple stakeholders to update and revise the College's Climate Action Plan. In the meantime, a progress report (2014) can be found on the ACUPCC Website.


In 2012, Oberlin College launched a campus-wide dialogue series focused on maximizing our ability to reach carbon neutrality by 2025. The event series intended to host four events focused on such issues as the replacement of the Central Heating Plant, issues around the use of natural gas as a transition fuel, and long-term strategies for achieving carbon neutrality, including conservation and community commitment. The keystone event of the series was a community workshop envisioning carbon neutrality. One outcome of this campaign is a website to document carbon neutrality efforts. This website will feature a timeline, FAQs, history, relevant projects, and progress towards our goals. A link will be added to this page once the site is live.

City and College Carbon Neutrality Partnerships

The City of Oberlin and Oberlin College work together to reach our collective carbon neutrality goals.

City's Climate Action Plan

The City of Oberlin is committed to reducing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions to below zero, while striving to balance the environmental, social, and economic interest of the Oberlin community. In 2007, the City became one of the first Ohio members of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. In 2011, the City completed the first three of five milestones set by ICLEI by conducting a baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory and developing a climate action plan.

In accordance with membership in ICLEI and the Climate Positive Development Program agreement, the City developed and adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2011. The plan set systematic goals of reducing the baseline inventory emissions by 50% by 2015, 75% by 2030, and 100% by 2050. The City is on track to reach the first milemarker through a power purchase agreement to receive 90% renewable electricity by the end of 2015.

The City of Oberlin's comprehensive Climate Action Plan can be found online here.

Clinton Foundation Climate Positive Development Program

As signers of the Clinton Foundation Climate Positive Development Program, the City of Oberlin and Oberlin College are committed to reducing Oberlin's greenhouse gas emissions to below zero. Oberlin became the first project in the world to move from candidate to participant status. Please visit the Oberlin Project's website to read more about Oberlin's committment and progress.