Dartmouth Energy Decarbonization and Infrastructure Renewal

Dartmouth Energy Decarbonization and Infrastructure Renewal

Dartmouth is working toward the goal of decreasing our campus energy carbon emissions to zero. Dartmouth's energy future includes drastically reducing energy consumption, constructing highly efficient buildings, and transitioning to low-carbon energy sources.

Darmouth construction July 11, 2024

Stay Up-to-Date on Construction Progress

We know construction projects can be disruptive to daily life. We aim to minimize disruption by keeping relevant communications channels up-to-date. For detailed updates, please refer to the Campus Services Decarbonization page. 

About Our Plan

The existential threat of climate change demands that we meet this moment with assertive action. Dartmouth has always developed solutions to the most pressing global problems. Now we must fulfill this mission while dramatically decreasing the negative impacts of how we do it. We must reshape how we heat, cool, and power our campus to meet our needs while generating zero carbon emissions.



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60% Greenhouse Gas Reduction

By 2030, the energy transition program will produce a 60% reduction in Dartmouth's Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions compared to a 2010 baseline.

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Energy Use Reduction

By transitioning to hot water and improving building efficiency, the energy transition program will reduce our energy use intensity by more than half by 2035 (compared to a 2022 baseline). 

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Efficient Heating & Cooling

The new heat pump plants will be tied to geo-exchange bores that transfer heat to and from the ground.

GHG Conversion 5 Year Timeline May2024

Projected Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction Every 5 Years

Our phased approach to improving our campus energy technology portfolio includes reducing fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable resources. This will help us meet our energy needs while generating zero carbon emissions.

View Chart

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Energy Transition: Program Components

Dartmouth is committed to reaching carbon zero operations by 2050. To reach that goal, we are utilizing a complex system of innovative technologies. These decarbonization components will work together to efficiently meet energy needs, provide necessary backups, and ensure our buildings and systems run efficiently for years to come.

District Map May 28

District Map

Geo-exchange borefields will be placed near heat pump plants that can move and store the heat captured by the geo-exchange system. The districts on the map represent groups of buildings that will be heated and cooled by the geo-exchange system as each geo-exchange plant comes online.

View the District Map

EIR Timeline June 2024

Dartmouth Decarbonization Timeline

The complete transformation of Dartmouth’s energy infrastructure cannot happen overnight. To minimize major disruptions to campus, Dartmouth has carefully planned project phases that bring small parts of the system online at a time. This helps Dartmouth build energy efficiency in the near term while chipping away at longer term goals.

View the timeline

Heat and cool

How We Currently Heat and Cool

Dartmouth currently uses fossil fuels to heat and cool our buildings. To reach our carbon zero operations goal, we must reshape how we heat, cool, and power our campus.

How It Works

Dartmouth's energy strategy centers around four main principles. We are drastically reducing our energy consumption, changing the way we distribute heat to buildings, implementing new geo-exchange and solar thermal technologies, and transitioning to zero-carbon electricity sources. We will also upgrade campus electrical systems and back-up generators to make the whole system resilient against shocks in the grid.

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1. Reduce Energy Demand

We are continuously reducing energy use in buildings through a wide array of energy conservation projects including LED lighting, heat recovery, building controls upgrades and other improvements. These projects have helped Dartmouth reduce its emissions about 30% since 2010.

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2. Steam to Hot Water Transition

We will replace all steam distribution piping with new hot water piping, which is a much more efficient way to distribute heat from the central plant to campus buildings. Steam will also be eliminated from building heating systems, in addition to other energy efficiency improvements.

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3. Combustion-Free Heat Sources

Transitioning to hot water enables the use of geo-exchange heat pumps which capture "waste" heat from the chilled water system and transfer it directly into the heating system. The system deposits excess heat into the ground in summer or withdrawn in winter via geo-exchange bore fields. Thermal storage tanks and solar thermal panels will provide additional combustion-free heating and cooling capacity.

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4. Zero-Carbon Electricity

We will utilize zero-carbon electricity sources, through a combination of on campus renewable electricity technology and procured off-site renewable electricity sources, to power the heat pumps, hot water pumps, and other campus electrical systems.

Frequently Asked Questions



Dartmouth Sustainability

We empower our students to take on environmental challenges through hands-on learning, building inclusive community, supporting research and teaching, and transforming campus operations.

Construction updates

Detailed Construction Updates

Learn about current progress on our energy transition projects and where work is taking place on campus through the Campus Services website. 

From the President's office

Dartmouth Climate Collaborative

Our energy transition is part of a larger institutional climate action and sustainability initiative that incorporates research, teaching, and immersive student learning experiences.