Kenyon has established itself as a campus that prioritizes sustainability. To reach their goal for a carbon neutral campus by 2040, the carbon neutrality plan process will prioritize balancing the dynamic nature of technology and the need for pragmatic solutions that are cost-effective and implementable. Campus leaders are seeking to build a strong foundation that will serve the campus’ sustainability efforts and dynamic needs well beyond 2040.
Kenyon has made investments in low-carbon energy solutions on campus with some existing and planned building-based geoexchange systems and solar PV arrays. Several buildings on campus have earned LEED recognition and new building construction will follow Duke University’s High Performance Building Framework. The carbon neutrality master planning effort will take all of these factors into account when assessing the current energy system, campus needs, and low-carbon energy alternatives.
Kenyon is taking a uniquely holistic approach by considering ecological solutions as part of their decarbonization planning. Agricultural lands near campus, including the Philander Chase Conservancy, provide the opportunity to incorporate nature-based solutions to carbon sequestration. Overall the college is looking to reduce the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere while also utilizing soil and vegetation to increase carbon sequestration.
The beauty of taking an ecological approach to carbon sequestration is that it comes with many co-benefits. In addition to mitigating the effects of climate change, expanding the restoration, protection, and management of natural communities can yield increased habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, improved soil fertility and capacity for infiltrating stormwater runoff, reduced soil erosion, economic benefits for landowners, and opportunities for recreation and wellness in the community.
Ever-Green will lead Kenyon stakeholders through a process to establish a project vision and guiding principles that will guide the master planning process. After that, energy and ecological experts will visit campus to collect data, assess existing energy infrastructure and the natural landscape, and meet with Kenyon stakeholders. Once data is collected and evaluations are complete, the team will appraise solutions, greenhouse gas emissions savings, costs, and feasibility to draft the master plan. The plan will then be reviewed by contributors and stakeholders with final recommendations to be delivered to the Board of Trustees by May 31, 2023.
The planning process will provide a rich opportunity for student education and engagement. Understanding fundamental systems like energy and ecology help to build a campus community that recognizes the value of low-carbon advancements, and it also prepares students to be informed and engaged citizens in their communities.
Kenyon College is a private, four-year liberal arts college with a 1,000-acre campus in a rural setting and nearly 2,000 undergraduates enrolled. As a fully residential college, Kenyon has established itself as a campus that prioritizes sustainability. In 2016, the college formalized its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2040. This commitment was reinforced in the 2021 update of the college’s strategic plan, and through its upcoming work with Ever-Green to translate that commitment into specific, actionable plans through campus energy and ecological systems.