This section includes non-technical case studies from Arizona State University, Cornell University, Swarthmore College, Smith College, and more.  Each summarizes a school’s approach, design, and implementation process. Among these case studies are examples of proxy pricing, levies, a redistributive carbon charge, a fee on air travel, and a response to an external carbon price.  The case studies also outline time frames of each program’s development from earliest planning to implementation and how carbon pricing fits into each institution’s sustainability goals.

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California State University East Bay

Case Study: University Air-Travel Offset Policy

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Synopsis: California State University East Bay (CSUEB) established a University Air-Travel Offset Policy (the policy) to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from university-funded air travel. The policy went into effect on July 1, 2020. CSUEB now charges a $9 carbon fee for every air-travel round trip funded by the university or affiliate. The monies are deposited into the university’s Climate Action Plan Fund. The Campus Sustainability Committee will invest the funds in on-campus projects that reduce GHGs.

Princeton University

Case Study: Evolution of Proxy Carbon Pricing Implementation at Princeton University

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Synopsis: Since its first Sustainability Plan in 2008, Princeton University has implemented a proxy carbon price to evaluate physical infrastructure decisions for both capital planning and energy conservation projects on its campus. Princeton uses the proxy carbon price as a strategy to bias cost study evaluations toward more energy efficient systems in order to advance carbon reduction goals…more.  This case study looks at the evolution of the carbon pricing implementation at Princeton.

Arizona State University

Case Study: Price on Carbon for Air Travel, 2018

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ASU, which has nearly 100,000 students, is implementing an approach to pricing scope 3 emissions.  It uses a flat fee of $8 per round trip on air travel. The revenue from this fee is then used to purchase market-based and community offsets.  The initiative began in 2016 and was implemented in 2018. (See here for more information.)  The case study emphasizes policy communications techniques.

Update: Outcomes from one year of ASU’s price on carbon for air travel, 2019

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ASU reports on initial lessons learned after the first year of its price on carbon for air travel. During the first year of operation, the carbon price was applied to 21,163 flights and raised $169,000. ASU used these funds to offset all university-sponsored air travel from FY19.

Cornell University

Case Study: Quadruple Bottom Line Project Evaluation Framework, 2019

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Cornell uses an internal proxy carbon price as part of a comprehensive sustainability decision-making framework.  In 2015 Cornell used this framework, including a $58/MTCDE proxy price, to evaluate 10 options for heating and powering the campus. Cornell’s program highlights how an internal carbon price can be incorporated into a broader process for campus infrastructure decision-making.

Smith College

Case Study: Proxy Carbon Price Strategy, 2018

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This is an example of proxy-pricing using life cycle cost in the facilities planning process. In its pilot stage the proxy price was used to evaluate two capital purchasing decisions and future purchasing options of renewable energy credits. Smith’s program highlights the potential for student involvement in developing a carbon pricing approach.

Swarthmore College

Case Study: Carbon Charge Program, 2018

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Swarthmore, which has roughly 1,600 students, is implementing a carbon levy of $23/MTCDE on  departments and offices, and a shadow carbon price of $100/MTCDE. The carbon levy engages the campus community with carbon pricing solutions while the shadow price integrates the cost of carbon into institutional cost-benefit analysis. The initiative began in 2015 and was implemented in 2016. (See the carbon charge program website for more information.)

University of British Columbia

Case Study: Climate Action in the Context of an Externally Imposed Price on Carbon, 2018

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This is an example of how a university responded to an external price on carbon. The British Columbia provincial government requires the University of British Columbia to pay $60/MTCDE. The case study outlines how the external carbon price impacts university climate action.

University of California, Los Angeles

Case Study: Air Travel Mitigation Fund, 2019

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UCLA is piloting a program that charges a mandatory carbon mitigation fee for every flight itinerary purchased for university business travel. The fees are $9 per domestic trip and $25 per international trip. The monies go into the Air Travel Mitigation Fund, which supports projects on campus that reduce GHG emissions.

University College London

Case Study: Carbon Accountability Scheme, 2018

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University College London, with about 38,000 students, is piloting an incentive for departments to reduce energy consumption, coupled with energy use information from buildings, operations, procurement, and academic travel.

Yale University

Case Study: Carbon Charge, 2018

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Yale has implemented a revenue-neutral carbon charge based on the U.S. government’s estimated social cost of carbon.  Yale began the work in 2014, ran a pilot project in 2015, and initiated full rollout in 2017. Yale, which has 5,453 undergraduates and 6,859 graduate students, offers more information on its carbon charge website, and through its task force white paper.

Lessons from first campus carbon-pricing scheme

Yale University, 2017

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Article outlining lessons learned from Yale’s carbon charge. Outlines the three pilot carbon pricing schemes Yale tried and gives statistical evidence for performance.