Publication Date



Climate change is a defining issue of our time, and colleges and university are leading the way by setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Many of us are even striving for carbon neutrality under the President’s Climate Commitment. To meet these targets we take measures to reduce our footprints, or do “less bad”. In this situation, we often reach a point where no more reductions are possible, and to meet our targets we need to consider purchasing offsets or renewable energy credits. But instead of spending money in these abstract ways that leave very little room for student interaction, could we focus on doing “more good” – identifying ways we can improve the environment and the community around us? Could we use the money spent on traditional offset programs to support these projects? And, can we somehow quantify these impacts and include them as part of a holistic “less bad and more good” sustainability strategy?

These are the questions this workshop will explore. Two thought leaders in this space will give a short presentation on the ways they are thinking beyond offsets, from calculating and flourishing your handprint in addition to reducing your footprint to onsetting instead of offsetting travel emissions to have real impacts in local communities. Then we will spend the remainder of the workshop brainstorming and discussing how we might apply these concepts to rethink our own approaches to offsetting campus emissions. The goal will be to use this as a seed conversation to begin a larger dialogue.