Skip to main content

Measure and Evaluate Progress toward a Carbon-Neutral Campus

Successful implementation of a climate action plan at your campus involves flexibility and long-term support from your organization's leadership and stakeholders. Above all, it involves measuring and reporting progress toward a specific target.

The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) have put together a reporting system for colleges and universities that signed the ACUPCC commitment. Such public reporting can show which institutions are making progress toward their commitments. Likewise, Federal agencies must report energy consumption and offsets, as outlined in federal energy legislation and regulations, to Congress annually.

Graph showing carbon emissions on the abscissa and time—present to 2050—on the ordinate.  The upper line increases monotonically into the future and represents business as usual; the lower line is black and represents a carbon reduction target in 2050.  Two colored lines represent interim targets between the present and 2050.

Interim targets make the entire climate action plan easier to manage.

Setting Interim Targets

Another way to measure progress is to set interim carbon-reduction targets (i.e., attaining a fraction of the target in so many years). The interim targets are helpful to maintain momentum by breaking a difficult, long-term goal into a series of shorter term objectives that are easier to attain.

Building Institutional Support

Two organizations publish a series of recommendations for how to accomplish these steps at colleges and universities in their reports titled, respectively: