Sustainability and Resiliency

Reduce Emissions to Net-Zero

Brown is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040, with 75% reductions by 2025.

The scientific consensus makes it clear that the only way to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change is for the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible. It is critical for Brown to lead by example in showing that large, complex institutions can develop clear and realistic paths toward net-zero emissions. 

Brown is committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040, with a 75% reduction by 2025. The path to net-zero emissions will be Brown’s largest-ever investment in sustainability, and the work is well underway.

Dry Bridge Solar Project


A 50-megawatt (DC) solar facility in a former gravel pit in North Kingstown, R.I., will offset the majority of campus electricity.

In 2019 and 2021, Brown entered into three renewable electricity purchase agreements and one market-based wind project that will offset 100% of Brown’s on-campus electricity use through 2027. Electricity usage accounts for around forty percent of the University’s campus emissions. A 50-megawatt (DC) solar facility in a former gravel pit in North Kingstown, R.I., will offset the majority of campus electricity. The remaining will be offset by two smaller R.I. solar projects and an agreement with a Texas-based wind farm, which began operating in summer 2020. Those projects, along with a thermal efficiency project completed in 2020, will cut campus emissions by approximately 27,000 metric tons per year — the equivalent of taking 5,800 cars off the road.

In the coming years, Brown will take steps to convert its central heating plant from natural gas to renewably sourced electricity, which, coupled with additional renewable electricity purchases, will eliminate much of Brown’s remaining campus emissions. Before that can happen, campus buildings and heating infrastructure must be renovated. This is a major challenge for a campus with buildings dating back to the late 1700s. However, doing so will help the University eliminate the vast majority of its remaining emissions. 

To meet Brown’s 2025 goal of a 75% reduction from a 2018 baseline Brown must address the natural gas usage at the central heat plant. Brown entered into a purchasing verified, additional, and permanent refrigerant destruction offsets – offsets that will quantifiably remove emissions from the atmosphere. These offsets serve as an interim solution for Brown to meet its 2025 goal until the central heat plant is electrified.

While the University’s vehicle fleet accounts for only a small fraction of campus emissions, Brown has begun to electrify its fleet and deploy charging stations across campus. All new vehicles must be EVs unless there is not a viable EV replacement option.

The Grounds Department has recently begun the transition from fossil fuel powered grounds equipment to electric-based equipment.  

The actions outlined cover the direct emissions produced on campus. The University also commits to quantifying indirect emissions from activities such as commuting and work-related travel, and developing targets for reduction. 

All emissions reductions will be verified by third parties, including the Climate Registry, to ensure consistency and accuracy in reporting. 

Related Academic Research

This study involved a team consisting of university researchers and the research institute that originally developed modeling in a consulting role for the state of Rhode Island, to assess the viability of more rapid decarbonization pathways for Northeastern U.S. states. The goal was to provide new insights on possibilities and challenges for major economic sectors like housing, transportation, and industrial emissions.
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