Climate Commitment

One of the most important responsibilities given to humans by God is to steward the planet and resources that God created. This stewardship role becomes even more important when faced with global challenges such as a warming planet. The evidence for a changing climate are unfortunately all too clear. Increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, rising oceans, an increase in floods and droughts, and the spread of diseases impact people all over the planet, with the poor suffering disproportionately.

An overwhelming majority of experts agree that burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of global climate change. While fossil fuels have brought many benefits to society, we’re now at a point where cleaner options are readily available. That’s why Houghton is actively working to reduce our carbon footprint by shifting toward sustainable, renewable energy.

In 2009 President Shirley Mullen signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, pledging Houghton College toward a path of carbon neutrality by 2050. Since that time, we’ve annually worked to make progress toward our goal. Carbon neutrality will take time, but initiatives like our 2.6 MW solar array, the new geothermal equestrian arena, and a campus-wide LED lighting retrofit have helped us make enormous steps in the right direction.

Overall carbon footprint

Since our baseline year of 2009 we’ve reduced our overall carbon footprint by 33%, despite a 20% increase in square footage during that time. The biggest factors contributing to this reduction include the solar array, a campus-wide LED retrofit, a reduction in study abroad travel, and a variety of other energy efficiency projects.

 

Bar graph - Houghton College Carbon footprint

 

Notes:

  • Complete 2019 data has been estimated base on an 80% complete footprint analysis.
  • Full carbon footprint data was not calculated for years 2010, 2012, and 2014.
  • Carbon footprints are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). For simplicity, this can be thought of as the annual amount (in tons) of carbon emitted into the atmosphere by an entity. For reference, the average American household’s carbon footprint is 48 tons.