Hamilton Launches Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy
The College’s new Sustainability Commitments are outlined in three plans: the 2023 Climate Action Plan, Land and Forest Stewardship Plan, and Sustainability Action Plan. The initiative is the result of a four-year effort to update Hamilton’s position on sustainability and articulate numerous strategies and benchmarks designed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and reduce Hamilton’s influence on global warming.
“Hamilton’s commitment to sustainability is clearly outlined in three plans that provide our roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality by 2030,” said President David Wippman. “The new strategies outlined in these plans reflect our community’s commitment to be conscientious stewards of the environment and demonstrate to our students the importance of being responsible global citizens.”
The plans were developed by the Sustainability Working Group (SWG), which includes faculty, students, staff, and trustees, with additional input from other members of the campus community throughout the process. The SWG was led by a three-person steering committee: Director of Environmental Protection, Safety, and Sustainability Brian Hansen, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Aaron Strong, and Associate Vice President for Facilities and Planning Michael Klapmeyer.
In an email announcing the plans to the campus community, the steering committee wrote, “While the immediate goal of this effort is to reimagine living, learning, and working at Hamilton to curb our collective contributions to climate change both locally and globally, this new posture highlights Hamilton’s single greatest attribute: its capacity to teach, both inside the classroom and experientially.”
In March 2022, Hamilton’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution that set a new goal for the College to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, 20 years earlier than its initial target of 2050. When the College announced that new goal, Strong said, “What is really great about Hamilton’s approach to carbon neutrality is that it focuses on reducing our biggest source of emissions – heating our buildings – and that it involves tremendous opportunities for active student learning and research projects along the way. Every member of our community has a role to play in acting on climate change. It can’t be done without you.”
Learn more about the three plans below.
Hamilton’s Climate Commitment
The 2023 Climate Action Plan lays out concrete steps and targets for achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and for continuing our efforts toward climate action into the future. The plan is based on implementing four key strategies:
- Replace fossil fuel-based building heating systems with electrically powered heat pumps;
- Manage Hamilton’s lands to enhance carbon sequestration in our forests;
- Significantly reduce other sources of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; and
- The limited use of carbon offsets in 2030.
The Land and Forest Stewardship Plan seeks to implement the following five guiding principles:
- Promote academic teaching/research opportunities to enhance our educational mission;
- Maximize carbon storage and sequestration from our forests and open/agricultural lands;
- Protect and expand the health and diversity of native flora and fauna through reforestation, invasive species management, and appropriate silvicultural practices;
- Facilitate low-impact recreation and wellness opportunities; and
- Promote biodiversity and native wildlife populations.
The Sustainability Action Plan targets certain actions that go beyond carbon emissions, many of which are implementable at the individual level. The plan includes five key focus areas for the Hamilton community:
- Create a culture of sustainability on campus;
- Advance sustainability across the curriculum;
- Manage the College's buildings, transportation fleet, and energy use;
- Manage food and waste; and
- Make purchasing and procurement more sustainable.