Pricing carbon is a significant organizational undertaking that requires commitment to tracking emissions data.  Whether the price affects building energy consumption, fleet operations, travel, purchased materials, or something else, a carbon charge will be more effective when tied to actual emissions data.  (Institutions that lack this data should refer to the work of Swarthmore.)

Proxy pricing often requires life cycle cost analyses of capital expenditures; these include the costs of utilities, operations, maintenance, and replacement.  This section contains detailed information from Smith College on its implementation of a life cycle cost calculator, as well as a how-to guide detailing the process of adapting a life cycle cost calculator to your institution.

Redistributive carbon charges come with their own complexities, as charging administrative units based on changes in emissions requires accurate baseline values for each charged unit.  Without high-quality baseline data, units can be over- or under-charged, affecting charges and rebates for every other unit that participates in the program.  For more detailed information on determining baseline emissions values, please contact Casey Pickett, director of the Yale Carbon Charge.

Resource library

Tool: Proxy Carbon Life Cycle Cost Calculator v3.0

Smith College, 2021

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Spreadsheet calculator to support proxy carbon pricing based on life cycle cost analyses.  The tool targets small institutions. Version 3.0 updated November, 2021. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license Creative Commons License.


Guide: Quick Start Guide for the Smith Proxy Carbon Life Cycle Cost Calculator

Smith College, 2021

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A short  visual introduction to the Smith College Proxy Carbon Life Cycle Cost Calculator.


Guide: A How-to Guide for the Smith Proxy Carbon Life Cycle Cost Calculator

Smith College, 2021

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Detailed written guide for using the LCC calculator for Smith College. A similar guide can be adapted for users of the calculator at your institution.



Guide: Methodology to Adapt & Update a Life Cycle Cost Calculator for Your Institution

Smith College, 2018

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A detailed guide to adapt the life cycle cost (LCC) analysis calculator to your own college or university.



Video: Overview of Carbon Pricing Toolkit and Proxy Price Tools

Smith College, 2019

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Webinar (40 minutes) that covers the basic mechanics of implementing/testing a proxy carbon pricing approach and walks step-by-step through an example use of the Smith College proxy price tool.  Presentation by Alex Barron, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy and Susan Sayre, Associate Professor of Economics. 


Tool: Life Cycle Cost Analysis Calculator

Harvard University, 2013

Available Here

Life Cycle Cost Analysis Excel spreadsheet tool and video tutorial.  Swarthmore and Vassar have adapted the spreadsheet to suit their institutions.  The tool can compare the net present value and other financial and carbon metrics for different project options, given upfront costs, expected lifetimes, commodity costs and consumption, maintenance and labor needs and costs, and a carbon cost..