Carbon Commitment

In 2007, former president Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., signed Second Nature's Carbon Commitment, promising that Holy Cross would reduce its carbon emissions over the coming decades.

The College exceeded its first stage outlined in our Carbon Neutral Plan (PDF), which called for a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2015. In fact, Holy Cross has reduced its carbon emissions by over 50% through initiatives like our Green Building policy or our single-stream recycling. With a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, the College continues to implement projects that conserve energy, reduce waste, minimize water usage, and foster environmental awareness.



  • Holy Cross has adopted a green building policy, with the intent of meeting LEED silver equivalent certification standards with all new major construction and renovations.
  • The Integrated Science Complex (consisting of the new Smith Labs, which opened in 2009, and the complete renovation of Haberlin Hall, which opened in 2010) incorporated high energy efficiency standards in all phases of design of construction, and received LEED Gold certification.
  • Figge Hall, a 156-bed townhouse-style residence hall, opened in the fall of 2011. Sustainability was a top objective in design and construction of the building, and the College received LEED Gold Certification.
  • An infrared camera, which measures surface temperatures, is helping Facilities workers identify heat loss in buildings.
  • Campus interior and exterior light fixtures are gradually being replaced with energy efficient lighting and sensors.
  • Boiler controls in the central heating plant have been upgraded to reduce emissions and burn more efficiently.
  • Building Services uses only eco-friendly cleaning products. Supplies are ordered in bulk.
  • All residence halls now have washing machines that are CEE Tier III and Energy Star qualified.
  • The College employs lighting motion sensors on campus.
  • The College has installed LED lighting fixtures in the campus parking garage. These are superior fixtures with the highest efficiency specifications.
  • The College has been replacing underground steam piping throughout campus with highly insulated piping and eliminating many existing leaks.


  • Four Zipcars are available for student and community use.
  • Weather permitting, public safety officers operate battery-powered cars and bicycles. The athletics department also has five battery-powered carts.
  • Bicycle racks have been installed around campus to encourage student use of bikes.
  • A transportation committee convened by the President’s Office has studied the use of College-owned vehicles and all off-campus transportation needs (for internships, Community-Based Learning courses, academic research, and service programs). As a result, the College now has a transportation coordinator to develop efficient and effective methods for transporting students to the various programs.
  • The College installed electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the parking garage in 2019. This was made possible by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and a rebate from National Grid. Learn more on the Parking website.

Recycling and Waste

  • An effective waste diversion program has been in place since the mid-’90s. The College diverts over 35 percent of its waste annually through recycling, composting, reusing and donating.
  • Holy Cross adopted a single-stream recycling system in 2012. Single-stream recycling is a system in which all recyclables (bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard) are placed, unsorted, in one recycling bin.
  • An open source print management system, PaperCut, was implemented across campus in the spring 2010 semester. Printing is still free for all Holy Cross students, staff and faculty but patrons must submit their print jobs then go to a printing release station to retrieve the job. Since implementation of the system, Dinand Library has seen a significant decrease in print jobs.
  • Through a partnership with Hartsprings Foundation, the Holy Cross community may donate used and unwanted clothing and household goods at the donation bin located behind Alumni Hall.

Food Service

  • Kimball Main Dining Hall went “trayless” in March 2009. Approximately 25 to 50 percent less food is wasted, and up to a half gallon of water is saved per tray not washed, saving 900 gallons of water a day.
  • Kimball Dining Hall has eliminated all use of Styrofoam.
  • Dining purchases 20-25 percent of all products from local companies.
  • Dining makes filtered water and tap water available as alternatives to bottled water.
  • Dining sells reusable beverage containers, and refills are offered at a discount.
  • Dining Services sponsors a weekly farmer’s market with locally grown produce (in season).
  • All coffee served on campus is either locally roasted, fair trade or shade grown organic.
  • Only hormone/antibiotic-free locally produced milk products are used.
  • Opportunities to purchase locally produced food are actively pursued.
  • Reusable dishware is used. Students are encouraged to use reusable bags to carry food out of the dining hall.
  • Dining Services has contracted with a company that guarantees to use its used cooking oil in biodiesel.

Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency

  • Holy Cross’ Campus Energy Conservation Policy, revised in early 2009, is designed to improve operating efficiency and reduce the cost of energy consumption.
  • The College purchased a long-term contract for electrical power from TransCanada, an energy supplier with a substantial amount of power from renewable energy sources.
  • The College has established a program that requires Energy Star appliances only be purchased for campus use.

Grounds and Landscaping

  • Used auto/truck motor oil, parts and tires are recycled.
  • Growth regulators are applied to turf and landscape to minimize mowing and trimming. 
  • Low maintenance, low input fescue turf grass is used in areas as appropriate. 
  • Upgraded irrigation controls are used to minimize water use. 
  • Flow sensors have been installed on high use systems to detect leaks. 
  • Web-connected controllers on high use irrigation systems allow quick and immediate scheduling response to weather changes. 
  • A local farm converts the College's yard waste into rich compost.

Student Involvement

  • Students participate in internships and projects in environmental organizations and not-for-profit groups throughout the Worcester area through the Environmental Studies program.
  • Eco-Action is Holy Cross' largest student environmental group. The group focuses on issues from national global warming campaigns, to local land preservation, to more sustainable dining solutions of campus, and any other environmentally related projects that students wish to pursue.
  • The Student Government Association has at least one director for sustainability each year.