Executive Summary

Carbon Mitigation Plan

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts

Campus Aerial

Final Report

January 22, 2021
U21.20.01 / 2020-61062-00


This Carbon Mitigation Plan (CMP) is a strategic planning tool created for the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA) main campus by a team of consultants and the UMA Carbon Mitigation Taskforce (CMTF). The consulting team was led by MEP Associates, LLC (MEP) and supported by Brailsford & Dunlavey (BD), GreenerU, and Competitive Energy Services (CES). The purpose of this study is to respond to a question posed by Chancellor Subbaswamy in 2019.

The Chancellor’s Charge: “I am asking the Task Force to study, or oversee a study, that would ask what it would take to get to 100% reliance on renewable energy sources for heating, cooling, and electricity usage on our campus by 2030.” – Chancellor Subbaswamy

The Carbon Mitigation Task Force (CMTF) and the consulting team spent roughly 12 months working with key staff and campus administrators to answer the Chancellor’s question. The team consulted with experts from other higher-ed institutions, non-profits, and government agencies and gathered input from staff, faculty, and students from across the UMA community. This resulting carbon mitigation plan outlines a portfolio of technical, policy, procurement and behavior change solutions that would allow UMA to operate with 100% renewable energy sources. While the plan could, in theory, be fully implemented by 2030, the consulting team is recommending a slightly longer timeline recognizing the significant planning and implementation work that will be required. The plan outlines a phased approach that would allow the UMA campus to achieve 80% reliance on renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100% by 2032. This plan requires UMA leadership to begin taking immediate actions toward implementation and sustain those actions over the next decade.

The consulting team performed a robust techno-economic analysis to find a technically and  economically feasible pathway for UMA to answer the Chancellor’s charge. The CMTF members and consulting team considered over 20 potential solutions and selected 15 solutions for the recommended portfolio. This portfolio can be summarized by the following 5 actions:

  1. Transition Away from Steam – Replace the campus circulatory heating system. Move away from inefficient legacy steam to a flexible, efficient low-temperature thermal distribution system.
  2. Stop Burning Fossil Fuels – Move away from the combustion of fossil fuels which are by far the largest contributor to UMA’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Accelerate Energy Efficiency – Upgrade and renovate buildings to lower energy demand and make them compatible with a low-temperature thermal distribution system.
  4. Expand the Use of Renewable Energy – UMA has some room to expand onsite solar, but that will only be enough to provide a small fraction of the total campus electricity needs. UMA will have to expand their purchases of renewable electricity from the grid. More importantly, expand the use of onsite renewable thermal technologies unlocked by the move away from steam.
  5. Integrate the Transition into UMass Amherst Culture – Campus community support and mission alignment are critical. The energy transition presents a revolutionary opportunity for using the campus as a living lab for advancing sustainable education and research.