Rutgers logo
Office of Climate Action
Statue of Willie the Silent surrounded by pink magnolia blossoms on Voorhees Mall in New Brunswick on the College Avenue campus.

Becoming Carbon Negative

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2040

Our Goal

Become carbon neutral by 2040 and carbon-negative—removing more greenhouse gases than we are putting into the atmosphere—no later than the university's 275th anniversary in 2041.

Our Situation

Rutgers Greenhouse Gas Emissions for FY 2019

  • Grid 31%
  • Co-Gen 23%
  • Other On-Campus Heat 22%
  • Commuting 17%
  • Food 4%
  • Business Travel 2%
  • Rutgers Buses 1%

Total Emissions: 470,000 tonnes

Rutgers FY21 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Breakdown

How We Will Reach Our Goal

Target Fossil Fuel and Electricity Emissions

Together, direct emissions and emissions associated with purchased electricity account for over three-quarters of Rutgers’ total emissions. Strategies for reducing these emissions will focus on reducing our energy demand and increasing the use of renewable sources, both on campus and off campus.

Solar panels cover cars parked in the yellow lot on Livingston

Accordion Content

  • Reduce direct emissions from fossil fuel consumption 20% by 2030 and 100% by 2040 (relative to the FY 2019 baseline of about 216,000 tonnes CO2-eq) 

    Eliminate emissions associated with electricity purchased off the grid by 2030 (compared to a FY 2019 baseline of about 144,000 tonnes CO2-eq) 

  • Reduce Building Energy Demand

    • Retrofit less efficient buildings
    • Decommission old, inefficient buildings
    • Adopt new construction and energy standards 
    • Install metering, monitoring and control systems 

    Decarbonize Vehicles and Equipment

    • Electrify fleet
    • Electrify maintenance equipment

    Decarbonize Electricity Supply

    • Expand on-campus solar generation
    • Purchase off-campus solar or wind electricity

    Decarbonize Heating

    • Phase out fossil natural gas heating and cogeneration

Address Indirect Emissions

Indirect emissions come from sources that are not owned, operated, or controlled by Rutgers, but are either directly financed (e.g., food and product supply chain emissions, commercial air travel paid for by the institution) or are otherwise linked to the campus via influence or encouragement. This means that addressing them requires engaging a broad range of staff, students, and faculty across Rutgers, as well as external vendors and partners. In addition to working within our community to reduce our indirect emissions, we can advocate to external stakeholders to help decarbonize the systems that support indirect emissions.

    Student jogs by the Engineering Building under colorful trees on a sunny fall afternoon

    Accordion Content

    • Reduce indirect emissions associated with commuting, travel, and the supply chain 30% by 2030 (relative to the FY 2019 baseline of about 108,000 tonnes CO2-eq for commuting, travel, and the food supply chain) 

      Use Rutgers’ economic and institutional capacities to advocate for addressing the societal choices that underlie indirect emissions

    • Reduce Fossil-Fueled Vehicle Miles Traveled

      • Create safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
      • Expand telecommuting
      • Expand subsidies for public transit
      • Provide parking cash-out
      • Facilitate EV adoption

      Reduce Emissions from Business Travel

      • Provide incentives for reducing emissions from business travel

      Reduce Emission from the Food Supply Chain

      • Menu changes (e.g., more “Plant Forward” diet)
      • Adopt a climate-friendly food labeling system
      • Increase use of reusable water bottles and hydration stations
      • Continue supporting locally sourced fresh products
      • Explore anaerobic digestion and/or commercial composting with the local communities

      Reduce Emissions from the Rest of the Supply Chain

      • Implement a comprehensive university source reduction and reuse policy and program
      • Purchase products with reduced toxic or hazardous chemicals

    Carbon Sequestration Efforts

    While we are able to eliminate our direct emissions and those associated with purchased electricity, we do not have as much control over our indirect emissions. To offset remaining indirect emissions, we will create and manage carbon sequestration projects on and off Rutgers-owned land and will only use third-party offsets as a last resort.

      A couple walks along green grass and trees on the Passion Puddle area on the Cook campus

      Accordion Content

      • On-campus and Off-campus Grounds

        • Expand no-mow/eco-mow zones
        • Convert lawn to trees

        NJAES Farms and Research Stations

        • Promote sustainable agricultural practices on Rutgers farms
        • Develop an emissions inventory and reduction plan for Rutgers farms

        University Forested Lands

        • Afforest “vacant” University-owned land
        • Adopt enhanced management practices
        • Implement “on-site” carbon offset projects

        Campus Master Planning

        • Follow the planning principles and sustainability framework embodied in the University Physical Master Plan - Rutgers 2030
        • Develop Low Carbon Construction Materials Policy
      • Expand carbon sequestration in campus lands, building materials, and peer-verified, Rutgers-managed off-campus projects by at least 2000 tonnes CO2-eq by 2030 and more thereafter

        Employ third-party offsets as a complementary strategy of last resort to address remaining emissions