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Our Goal

At Vanderbilt, our vision for a sustainable future for everyone begins with us, today.


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Invest in ON-SITE clean energy

Invest in ON-SITE
clean energy

Invest in OFF-SITE LARGE-SCALE renewable energy

Invest in OFF-SITE
renewable energy

Decrease CARBON FOOTPRINT from vehicles

Decrease CARBON

Increase GREEN SPACES across campus

Increase GREEN

Reduce CONSUMPTION and waste

and waste

Invest in SUSTAINABLE infrastructure

Invest in

Innovative Collaborators


In 2019, the university set a goal to power its campus entirely through renewable energy and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Several large efforts are already underway to make significant strides towards reducing Vanderbilt’s emissions.  

In 2021, Vanderbilt first achieved carbon neutrality decades ahead of its original 2050 goal by collaborating with Climate Vault, an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to reducing and removing emissions.  

Vanderbilt University will further offset its carbon footprint by investing in the development of new solar energy projects that will expand access to clean energy in the Southeast. A new, multiyear collaboration with Clearloop, a Silicon Ranch company, builds on Vanderbilt’s commitment to power its campus entirely through renewable energy and maintain carbon neutrality. 

Vanderbilt joined more than 30 organizations across the country that have committed to invest in the solar projects to be developed in Panola County, Mississippi in the town of Batesville – a community at the intersection of the Mississippi Delta and the Appalachian Foothills. This solar farm will provide access to clean energy to approximately 1,000 Panola County homes. Vanderbilt will receive the carbon offset credits for the life of this solar project, which is expected to offset the university’s entire fiscal year 2021-22 carbon footprint.  

Two additional solar farms are planned as part of Vanderbilt’s collaboration with Clearloop in the coming years. 

Clearloop provides carbon solutions that help organizations decarbonize areas in the U.S. that are under resourced and have historically experienced the most negative economic, health, and wellness impacts from air pollution and energy. Clearloop helps spur investment in new solar projects in areas with the highest sun intensity coupled with the opportunity to displace the most carbon and clean up the electrical grid in socio-economically under-invested areas. This quantitative measurement is known as emissionality, an innovative process that Clearloop pioneered.  

While the university continues to push action and innovations on several fronts, unique collaborations, such as the collaboration with Clearloop, allow the university to address the full extent of its carbon footprint, achieving carbon neutrality decades ahead of its initial goal and allowing Vanderbilt to become the first member of the Association of American Universities to achieve carbon neutrality.     

The university sustainability goals push action on several fronts including: 

The university’s sustainability goals, a collaborative effort among administrators, faculty, staff and students, fall under FutureVU, Vanderbilt’s holistic planning process for developing spaces on campus and investing in initiatives that support the people who live, work and learn in them.   

The sustainability efforts also align with the university’s core missions of teaching, research and discovery through the Academic Strategic Plan. 

The university commissioned multiple comprehensive operational studies to better understand and develop the solutions needed to address the university’s environmental impact: 

  • The BlueSky Energy Vision Study, a 10-month study carried out by the BlueSky Vision Executive and Advisory Committees, a mix of diverse stakeholders across campus, studied the implementation of a comprehensive renewable energy plan through energy conservation, production of on-site clean (without combustion) and renewable energy, procurement of off-site renewable energy to mitigate campus greenhouse gas emissions, and sufficient storage of clean energy to provide the campus with energy resilience. 
  • The Large-Scale Renewable Energy Study, conducted with input from the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Study Advisory Committee, a mix of diverse stakeholders on campus, explored potential options for off-campus, large-scale renewable energy sources, including solar and/or wind projects. 
  • MoveVU, the university’s mobility and transportation strategy, developed with engagement from across the campus community, will help prioritize the best use of Vanderbilt’s limited land. The transportation and mobility strategy calls for a comprehensive, layered and connected ecosystem that serves the Vanderbilt and wider Nashville communities. It recommends a decrease from around 68 percent to 47 percent in drive-alone commuters and an increase in use of more sustainable modes of transportation, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions. 
  • The Zero Waste Study, a diverse group of campus stakeholders including many students, was been charged with developing a plan to reduce consumption and landfill waste across campus. Priorities included addressing food waste through Campus Dining and eliminating single-use plastic water bottles across campus.