From 2008-2023, OSU achieved greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 23% with modest financial investment and a suite of systemic changes. When accounting for growth, that equates to a 51% reduction in emissions per student and 48% reduction in emissions per square foot of building space. Now, we prepare to accelerate our path to carbon neutrality.

More than ever, Oregon State is committed to addressing the global climate crisis by reducing its emissions and empowering our graduates to take bold action. Addressing climate change has been integrated into our mission for a long time, as outlined in Prosperity Widely Shared, OSU's latest strategic plan.

Recent Activities

Current Activities

  • The Sustainability Office launched the Green Labs Certification program, the third such green certification program.
  • Design for a heating and cooling controls and chiller upgrade at Richardson Hall is underway.
  • Retrocommissioning of Linus Pauling Science Center is in progress, and projected to save over $80,000 a year in energy costs. See more on our Energy page.
  • We have partnered with Oregon Clean Power Cooperative to install solar electric arrays on campus buildings.
  • Lighting in The Valley Library is being upgraded by Facilities Services from fluorescent to LED.
  • OSU actively pursues Energy Trust of Oregon financial incentives and since 2014 has received more than $1.2 million in incentives for proactive energy efficiency projects.

What's Next

  • We continue to focus on energy savings upgrades and system refinements to existing buildings. Since heating and cooling buildings contributes the largest portion of OSU's carbon emissions, our focus will be on upgrading and tuning heating and cooling systems.
  • The Sustainability Office has engaged our utility companies and others to explore options for purchasing off site renewable energy
  • More solar electricity is coming to campus rooftops, starting with Richardson Hall, Beth Ray Center and Milam Hall.

What You Can Do

  • Let us know if you see severe energy waste or very inefficient resource use on campus.
  • Work with your department, lab or Greek community on a green certification.
  • Make a donation to the Sustainability Fund, to support carbon reduction projects on campus.

Action Archive

  • From 2007-2013, invested over $1 million in proactive lighting efficiency upgrades
  • Constructed the LEED Platinum Energy Center in 2010, reducing carbon emissions 16% from the previous year
  • Between 2008 and 2010, students purchased enough off-site renewable energy to offset nearly all of the Corvallis campus electrical use, winning a Green Power Leadership Award from US Environmental Protection Agency. OSU administrative leadership funded a similar-sized purchase in 2011.
  • Invested $600,000 in bicycle parking in 2011
  • With federal stimulus money in 2011 and 2012, installed 16 EV chargers and invested another $800k in building efficiency, primarily lighting and heating/cooling tune ups
  • Installed 3 megawatts of solar power in 2012 and 2013, via a public-private partnership with Tesla
  • In 2016, launched our Green Office Certification program to give OSU employees tips and incentives to be more sustainable in the workplace
  • In 2019, OSU adopted higher green building standards via the OSU Requirements for Sustainable Development.  
  • In 2019, OSU implemented an energy policy via the Energy Consumption Rule
  • Transportation Services has developed a Sustainable Transportation Strategy with goals that include reducing single occupancy commute trips from 32% to 20% by 2030. 
  • In 2020, the Sustainability Office launched an opt-in program to offset carbon emissions from travel. 
  • Created for Earth Day 2020 an OSU Sustainability Timeline, with dates as far back as 1970
Fast Facts
  • For fiscal year 2023, OSU's emissions were around 117,257 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or about 22,815 homes' electricity use for one year
    • OSU has a presence in all 36 Oregon counties, and around 10.6 million square feet of space
  • From 2008 to 2023, OSU reduced gross greenhouse gas emissions by 23% despite significant growth
  • When normalizing for growth, this equates to a 51% reduction in emissions per student and 48% per 1000 square foot of building space since 2008
  • As of 2023, 40.8% of Pacific Power's electricity comes from coal
  • The OSU Energy Center came online in late FY10 and reduced total university emissions by 16%. About 40% of OSU's electricity is generated there.
  • OSU has over 4 million square feet of lab space, much of it energy intensive.


The Plans: Targeting Neutrality by 2025

In 2008 and 2009, the OSU Sustainability Office facilitated a community process to develop the first OSU Climate Plan, a strategic plan for carbon neutrality. Community input and goals set by the State of Oregon and the Oregon University System helped shape OSU's aggressive goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. OSU committed to reducing and ultimately eliminating emissions from, at minimum, electricity, heating, commuting and air travel.

In 2016, several OSU partners created an updated process to distribute ownership and implementation responsibilities more broadly across the campus.


On April 11, 2007 OSU President Ed Ray signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), now known as the Carbon Commitment, requiring OSU to do three things:

  1. Take immediate interim steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Measure the institution's emissions every two years
  3. Identify a target date to achieve climate neutrality and create a plan to get there.

Because OSU signed before June 30, 2007 it is a charter signatory.

OSU's Interim Steps in 2007

Commitment signatories were within two months of signing required to take at least two of seven tangible actions. At the time, OSU selected the following three actions:

  • Constructing all new facilities, including major remodels, to LEED Silver equivalent or higher
  • Providing transit passes to all students, staff and faculty on four regional transit systems
  • Purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset 75% of OSU's electrical consumption

Frequently Asked Questions

All OSU facilities and operations across the state are included in the university's climate goals and measurement. The Sustainability Office gathers data about activities from all 36 Oregon counties and calculates emissions from buildings, transportation, agricultural activities and other processes.

The Oregon State TRIGA Reactor (OSTR) is a research reactor that does not produce electricity for the university. OSTR is a valuable research tool for OSU academic programs, such as nuclear engineering and radiation health physics. To learn more about OSTR, click here.

The Sustainability Office completes greenhouse gas inventory each fiscal year to motivate action and to provide enhanced reporting. Various systems are analyzed throughout the year to analyze how OSU energy and water is used. Each fiscal year a public report is released that illustrates the university's emissions by source. 

To learn more about the process of emissions reporting, click here. For the most recent report, please read the Fiscal Year 2019 Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

Yes! The OSU Energy Dashboard enables the OSU community to access campus energy consumption trends. 

Only offsets that have been authenticated by a certified, third-party verifier are purchased.

This ensures: 

  1. each offset purchased will support a greenhouse gas reduction project that otherwise would not have happened
  2. every offset represents 1 ton of CO2e of greenhouse gas reduction