Notre Dame's Journey toward Carbon Neutrality

At the University of Notre Dame, we are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and caring for our common home. Through the power of partnerships and collaboration, action is being taken today to ensure enhanced energy efficiency and resiliency for tomorrow. While we know we still have much work to do before reaching our carbon neutrality goal, we’ve made great progress. This timeline of major events demonstrates that progress. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of campus and community partners, we are paving the way to a more sustainable future for our University and the greater community.

2008: University president, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., declares sustainability a major goal for the University. Initial implementation plan includes energy conservation measures: lighting replacement, HVAC controls and set temperature points, water conservation, energy metering, and building design standards.

2009: Notre Dame commits to renovating twenty-four older campus buildings, with an expected reduction of over 4,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

2010: Four newly constructed buildings receive LEED Gold certifications: Geddes, Ryan, Stinson-Remick, and Leighton. Going forward, all new construction has a building standard of achieving a LEED certification.

2010: Notre Dame reduces coal consumption by 50 percent.

2011: New electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are installed on campus, supporting EV commuters.

2011: Solar panels are installed atop Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering.

2011: A solar array is installed atop Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering

2013: New LED lighting system in the Purcell Pavilion arena at the Joyce Center reduces energy consumption by 73 percent, saving 469,000 kilowatt hours annually—the equivalent of removing sixty-three passenger cars from the road.

2015: The Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, is published, calling us to care for our common home.

2015: University president, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., responds to Laudato Si' and announces the University’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by more than half in 2030 and cease burning coal by 2020.

2017: The Kenmore Solar Array is established in South Bend.

2017: The East Campus geothermal system is installed near McCourtney Hall.

2018: Basilica LED lighting renovation reduces energy consumption by 78 percent—the equivalent of planting 24 acres of trees per year.

2018: The East Plant is developed for a thermal energy production and storage facility constructed on the northeast edge of campus. This storage system provides an efficient and cost-effective way for the University to meet campus peak energy needs by supplementing operating chillers during peak energy use hours. The East Plant also houses the mechanical equipment for new geothermal well fields and can provide up to 16,000 ton hours of chilled water.

2018: Indiana's largest green roof is installed atop the Joyce Center. At nearly 80,000 square feet, this roof helps to insulate the Joyce by retaining heat and A/C, reduces heat island effects, and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2019: The University and the Vatican co-sponsor the conference “The Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home.”

2019: Notre Dame ceases burning coal a year ahead of schedule.

2019: Three Grind2Energy biodigestors were established to reroute food waste from the landfill. The rerouted waste produces enough biogas to power 1,000 homes per hour. Notre Dame's campus has G2E digestors on-site at North and South Dining Halls, as well as the Center for Culinary Excellence.

2019: University Power Plant installs combined cycle combustion gas turbines to produce electricity and steam. This system replaces older power plant boilers with more efficient, lower emission-producing sources of energy.

2020: Two additional geothermal well systems are installed near Ricci Family Fields and Notre Dame Stadium Lot.

2021: The University of Notre Dame officially commits to becoming a carbon-neutral campus by 2050.

2021: The University was a founding partner in the Saint Joseph Solar Farm and helped make the project possible by agreeing to purchase 40% of the annual renewable energy certificates for thirty 30 years. The 210-acre solar farm is located off campus and operated by Indiana Michigan Power.

2022: Hydroelectric facility along the St. Joseph River commences operation and produces approximately seven percent of the electricity needed to power campus, depending on how high the water is flowing along the river.

2023: A fourth geothermal well field is completed in the Joyce Lot.

2023: Fourteen new EV chargers are scheduled to be installed across campus parking lots to support the growing number of EV campus commuters and visitors.

2023: University announces new on-campus solar array installation to begin, which will reduce emissions by up to 700 tons annually.

2024: Notre Dame's fifth geothermal well installation begins in the southeast district of campus near Jordan Hall of Science, and construction of the Southeast Geothermal Plant for campus commences.

Our carbon reduction efforts are not finished. We are actively striving to achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. As we progress, this timeline will be updated to reflect the work we've completed. In the meantime, we continue collaborating with campus and community partners to further our mission of caring for our common home.