Building Net Zero

Plan 2030 Implementation Pathways

Implementation of Plan 2030 can be separated into two areas of focus: Building Net Zero (BNZ) and Living Net Zero (LNZ). Both are essential to reaching the University's commitment of net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.

Living net zero
Living Net Zero

Actions Columbia’s schools, departments, and individuals can take to reduce environmental impact and contribute to Columbia’s sustainability goals. 

Building Net Zero
Building Net Zero

Refers to the operational decisions of the University surrounding energy systems, construction, and other high-level activities that result in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

An illustration of Columbia's Morningside campus with Scopes 1, 2, and 3 energy sources identified

Greenhouse Gas Protocol

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol classifies an organization’s GHG emissions into three “Scopes” for tracking and reporting. To learn more about how each of the Scopes fit into Columbia's Building Net Zero (BNZ) and Living Net Zero (LNZ) categories, see this PDF table.

Columbia’s Priority Areas

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Electrify Columbia's campuses

Columbia commits to electrification and 100% renewable electricity. To learn more, go to Plan 2030: Campus Energy.

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Electrify fleets and boost charging capabilities

Columbia commits to emissions reduction from on-campus fleet vehicles through increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles. To learn more, go to Plan 2030: Sustainable Transportation.

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Sustainable Design and Construction policy to build to net zero

Columbia commits to ensure its design, construction, and refresh processes at all campuses align with the goal to achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner, and achieve zero waste. To learn more, go to Plan 2030: Responsible Design and Construction.

Current Progress

As of 2022, Columbia’s Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions come primarily from onsite combustion of fossil fuels and electricity on the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses.

Columbia commits to electrification and 100% renewable electricity. We're getting there through these efforts:

Campus Electrification 

Electrification studies for all campus portfolios underway and results will determine path towards strategic electrification, including compliance with local laws and carbon neutrality. 

Construction Design Standards 

Ensure design, construction and refresh process align with long-term goal to decarbonize and achieve zero waste. 


Assess EV charging needs and station expansion plan, and achieve zero emission fleet by 2037.

Science-based targets (SBTs) provide a clearly defined trajectory to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. More than a thousand public entities globally are adopting SBT to translate the latest climate science from global calculations to institution-specific targets. The targets outlined in Plan 2030, calculated from the base year of 2019, align all Columbia’s campuses at the highest level to take immediate action on GHG reduction efforts.

science-based targets

Morningside Campus

  • 82 buildings
  • Central Plant

Manhattanville Campus

  • 6 buildings
  • Central Plant


  • 171 buildings


  • 21 buildings


  • 17 buildings

Columbia is tracking its progress through both voluntary and mandated reporting structures.



Building Net Zero News