Dartmouth's Climate Commitment on Earth Day


Dear members of the Dartmouth community,

Today, I am proud to announce the Dartmouth Climate Collaborative—a comprehensive approach that integrates our academic enterprise, campus operations, and community engagement to address climate change in meaningful and sustainable ways. 

First, over the next five years, Dartmouth will invest more than half a billion dollars in improvements to our physical plant to reduce emissions on campus 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2050—the largest investment focused on sustainability in our history. (Watch the video.)

Our aging infrastructure—some of which is more than 100 years old—is in dire need of repair, and rather than sinking resources into an outdated system, we will take this opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint in a lasting way. This will include upgrades to improve energy efficiency, continuing the transition from steam to hot water heating, and the installation of geo-exchange borefields and high-capacity heat pumps in order to aggressively reduce our greenhouse gas impact. We acknowledge that our past efforts around campus decarbonization have come up short. Our new, much more aggressive goals are designed to help us lead in campus sustainability—especially in more rural cold-climate locations.

Second, as a leading research university, our responsibility to address climate change goes far beyond the carbon footprint on campus. We are home to incredibly talented and accomplished scholars who have devoted their lives to studying and teaching the effects of a changing climate and developing innovative solutions to sustain our planet. We must support the vision and work of our faculty. 

To this end, anthropology professor Laura Ogden, who is serving as a special advisor to the provost on climate and sustainability, is leading the Climate Futures Initiative. This year-long effort, launched last week, will help ensure we capitalize on areas where Dartmouth is best positioned to drive climate scholarship and solutions—focusing on our unique sense of place, our history and ties to Native and Indigenous communities, our rural, cold-climate location, and more. 

Across the arts, humanities, sciences, and applied fields, we are already driving critical work:

  • Jami Powell is curating Indigenous art at the Hood made from ash trees that are disappearing because of climate change;  
  • Professor Justin Mankin's work on climate variability is improving our understanding of human activity that has influenced snow loss in the Northern Hemisphere;
  • The Indigenizing Arctic Research Project, a five-institution collaborative led by the Dickey Center's Institute of Arctic Studies, is informing the future of Arctic research through innovative, Indigenous-led engagement.
  • Engineering professor Mary Albert, Thayer '83, and her team have won international recognition for their work on an energy transition model with the people of Qaanaaq, an Arctic community in northern Greenland;
  • And the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering, have launched the Greenshot Accelerator for climate entrepreneurs. 

As we embark on the largest operational change in Dartmouth's history, our campus will become a living lab as our capital projects become drivers of new research, teaching, and collaboration. Critical to this will be our students, whose passion and creativity have helped spur our aggressive push around campus decarbonization.

The Dartmouth Climate Collaborative will be data driven, bring diverse perspectives to the table, and coordinate with an advisory council composed of faculty, students, alums, and a member of the community group Sustainable Hanover. The council will be led by Professor Ogden and Rosi Kerr '97, director of the Sustainability Office. 

As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced, Dartmouth must meet the moment. Maintaining the status quo is not an option, nor is incremental change. The time for bold action is now. Dartmouth has a responsibility to live up to the Big Green: a name that captures our pride in and commitment to the beautiful, natural place we live in.


Sian Leah Beilock