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To: The Wellesley Community
From:  Laura Daignault Gates ’72, Chair of E2040
Re: E2040 Progress Update
Date: May 17, 2019

 

E2040 is the working group of the Board of Trustees charged with the development of an energy master plan that will define a pathway and commitment to carbon neutrality. Members of E2040 include students, staff, and faculty as well as trustees. Because of the critical importance of this work and the requirement for full commitment from the entire community, ongoing communication is essential. This is the first of periodic progress updates about our work. You will find these and other updates on the Sustainability website. We have also set up an email group so that any member of the community can provide us with ideas and questions. You can reach us at E2040-workinggroup@wellesley.edu. Please know that this is only one of the ways in which we intend to engage the community in our work. Next semester we will hold town halls and provide opportunities for more intensive engagement and learning alongside our consultants.

Consultants to E2040

We have engaged MEP Associates as consultants to work with us in the development of our long-term plan. We interviewed three firms after receiving six proposals in response to our RFP and selected MEP because of very specific relevant experience at other academic institutions including Cornell, Smith, and Carleton. Members of the firm have extensive knowledge of geothermal systems and other sustainable technologies, have strong financial modeling skills, and clear sensitivity to the unique demands of academic institutions. Their team includes a firm that specializes in communication and community engagement strategies.

Exploring Geothermal Opportunities

Much of our work with MEP will focus on opportunities for geothermal heating and cooling on campus. Thermal loads account for approximately 52 percent of the College’s carbon footprint. Therefore, increasing efficiency in this system and converting it to electricity so that we can use non-carbon renewable energy is the most significant step we can take to reach carbon neutrality. However, it is not the only step we must take, so we will be working alongside the Sustainability Committee, which will take up some of the other uses of carbon such as transportation and individually small sources of energy use and carbon production. By working together, we will develop a comprehensive plan.

Our Name Reflects Our Aspiration

Several people have asked for clarification of the name of our working group: Does 2040 have a specific significance? In choosing the name E2040, we considered other benchmark dates and the urgency of our work. The College had already set benchmarks for 2026 and 2036. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set targets at 2030 for a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) from 2010 levels and 2050 for carbon neutrality. We are on track to exceed our goal for 2026 in 2021. The College will achieve a 25 percent reduction in emissions from a 2010 baseline when the new central utility plant comes on line and the $6 million investment in energy conservation measures are complete. We settled on the name E2040 to signal an aspirational goal for Wellesley College to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

We are aware that several constituencies on campus would like us to make this a hard commitment right now. We fully expect to make a firm commitment a year from now once we have the facts necessary to see our way to achieving our goals.

E2040 is excited to begin its work. We will be underway over the summer. You can review the group’s charter and membership on the Sustainability website. Expect further updates.