Carbon Neutrality Master Plan

To reach our goal of carbon neutrality by 2040, Kenyon engaged the energy consultant Ever-Green Energy to assist us in developing a Carbon Neutrality Master Plan. The plan recommended specific actions and timelines to chart a path from 2023 to 2040. Ever-Green has worked with several other colleges on similar large-scale projects to identify low-carbon energy solutions, and its proposal team showed particular expertise in ecological systems and carbon sequestration, as well as in engaging campus stakeholders.

The carbon neutrality master plan outlines recommendations to address scope 1 (direct) and scope 2 (indirect) carbon emissions. The plan aims to balance the dynamic nature of technology and the need for pragmatic solutions that are cost-effective and implementable. Ever-Green Energy led the energy system work by evaluating campus energy data and assessing the existing energy infrastructure. The team then analyzed the low-carbon solutions available to Kenyon, with consideration for short-term and long-term priorities. Planning was overseen by the Office of Green Initiatives and Vice President for Facilities, Planning and Sustainability Ian Smith.

The College is taking a uniquely holistic approach to carbon neutrality planning by considering ecological solutions as part of the plan. In other words, Kenyon is looking to reduce the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere while also increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon that is removed and stored in soil and vegetation.

Ecological Solutions in Carbon Neutrality Goals

Ever-Green Energy partnered with ecological experts including Sarah M. Stai, Ph.D., of EcoSmith Consulting and a team led by Kim A. Chapman, Ph.D., of Resource Environmental Solutions (RES). 

The ecologist team analyzed and made recommendations for mitigation of the South Campus construction impacts as part of the overall carbon neutrality planning process. Kenyon’s goal was not only to regain the temporary loss of carbon sequestration capacity by the harvested acres but also to exceed that capacity through the broader effort to increase College-wide carbon sequestration.

During 2022-23, the ecologists and local partners evaluated opportunities to incorporate nature-based solutions for carbon sequestration on campus and on nearby College-owned lands.

The beauty of taking an ecological approach to carbon sequestration is that it comes with many co-benefits. In addition to mitigating the effects of climate change, expanding the restoration, protection, and management of natural communities can yield increased habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, improved soil fertility and capacity for infiltrating stormwater runoff, reduced soil erosion, economic benefits for landowners, and opportunities for recreation and wellness in the community.

A report from consultants at Ever-Green Energy identifies multiple potential strategies for achieving the College’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.