Vassar College

At a Glance


College or University

Project Types

Commercial Energy Efficiency, Sustainability and Energy Management Strategy




Poughkeepsie, NY


Ashley Roberts created an engagement strategy for Vassar College and proposed finance mechanisms to support energy initiatives.


Vassar College lies on a 1,000 acre campus, comprised of more than 100 buildings, including National Historic Landmarks, which pose significant challenges for deep energy retrofits. The College Committee on Sustainability set an ambitious goal of achieving net carbon neutrality by 2030 in their 2016 Climate Action Plan, but a strategy to increase stakeholder buy-in was necessary for success. Looking for help, the College continued its ongoing relationship with EDF Climate Corps, bringing in its 6th fellow, Ashley Roberts. 


Roberts conducted interviews with members of administration, faculty, facilities, and the student body to gauge their concern about climate change and energy use. Results showed that all groups were concerned of the issues, yet unaware of the carbon goals outlined in the College’s Climate Action Plan—or how they could contribute personally. So, Roberts proposed an engagement strategy that would improve awareness of carbon emissions on campus and identify projects with measurable goals for each administrative branch to pursue. The Office of Sustainability can act as an internal measurement and verification body to support each administration branch in achieving these targets.

In addition to the engagement strategy, Roberts proposed energy performance contracting as a budget-neutral financing mechanism to support some of the campus buildings most in need of large-scale renovation. She evaluated state funded rebate and incentive programs to support projects based on energy data and building benchmark reports, and developed high-impact efficiency strategies for the campus data center, faculty housing and real-time energy management.

Potential Impact

With more key stakeholders now motivated to participate, Vassar’s goal of net carbon neutrality is well within sight.

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