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Key Objective: 2.1 Energy Planning Document

The iCAP 2020, objective 2.1 is: “By FY24, develop a comprehensive energy planning document that includes a detailed strategy for meeting the FY50 net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goal.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for the Energy Planning Document.

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Over the last decade, the university’s energy conservation accomplishments were implemented primarily through incrementalism; when opportunities arose, dedicated staff made improvements. However, this step-by-step approach is not systematic and does not guarantee the urgent changes needed at the rate required to meet our Climate Leadership Commitments. The 2015 Utilities Production and Distribution Master Plan[1] included action items for the production and distribution side of campus energy; however, it relied on carbon offsets to meet the climate commitments and it did not include a deep analysis of the overall energy conservation and efficiency needs for campus facilities. Achieving carbon neutrality for our energy needs requires significant funding, holistic conservation strategies, and clear prioritization of competing needs. We will model our communications after effective strategies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic; for example, the university-coordinated responses, briefings, and messages through routine Massmails that brought information to the forefront. Our similar strategy will routinely communicate and disseminate sustainability information to the campus community. 

F&S published an Energy Management Plan for FY21 to FY25 in summer 2020, and will lead development of a comprehensive energy planning document to keep campus energy use on track for meeting our FY50 goal. This document will provide a one-stop-shop for transparent and organized baseline statistics (e.g., building-by-building energy consumption, short- and long-term trends, etc.) made readily available to all stakeholders. At any time over the next 30 years, decision-makers can refer to these baseline metrics to gauge the university’s performance and make adjustments, enabling us to avoid duplicating efforts as leaders, employees, working groups, and SWATeam members change. The document will also include comprehensive, realistic estimates for future energy supplies from solar, wind, geothermal, and other low-carbon sources such as nuclear. By performing comprehensive feasibility assessments for potential clean energy sources, the document will propose the most efficient plan to achieve our FY50 goals (e.g., land allocation, balance of energy storage/production, daily/seasonal peak attenuation, etc.). 

Because the staged energy infrastructure improvements will include cost estimates allocated for design, permitting, construction, operations, and maintenance for each proposed project, the energy planning document will also serve as a financial plan. University administrators can earmark funds now for projects that will be completed one, five, 10, or 20 years in the future in order to meet our FY50 net-zero emissions goal. 

Ultimately, the document will include: life cycle cost analyses to evaluate sustainable energy strategies; interim milestones to anchor progress; realistic goals for conservation, carbon emission reductions, and clean energy implementation; and a detailed funding plan with specific costs and recommendations for each strategy’s anticipated funding sources. 

We strive to advance our progress toward carbon neutrality with each iteration of the iCAP.  Following the planning document’s completion in FY24, we will use the results to inform the development of more specific iCAP 2025 Energy objectives. 


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