Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Q: Why price carbon?

A: Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change, which negatively affects humans in numerous ways. There is a financial cost associated with these negative impacts–for example, after an extreme weather event damages a building the renovation costs money. If carbon emissions are not priced appropriately, generally these costs are not paid by those responsible for emitting. When carbon emissions are priced, emitters pay the price of the negative impacts they cause.

Q: What is internal carbon pricing?

A: Many governments have not put a price on carbon emissions. However, over five hundred companies have implemented some form of internal carbon pricing as a tool to reduce emissions and to prepare their organization for a future in which carbon is more widely priced.  This often involves the organization considering a carbon price when it makes large financial decisions.  And some organizations charge business units, departments, buildings, or individuals for emitting carbon. These are examples of internal carbon pricing.  They are voluntary and not overseen by an external regulator.

Q: What kinds of organizations have internal carbon pricing programs?

A: Companies with interests in high-emitting sectors such as oil and gas, utilities, and manufacturing often put a price on carbon internally to prepare for future governmental carbon pricing policy measures. Yale is the first university to experiment with internal carbon pricing and the first to implement a financially impactful internal carbon pricing program.  Swarthmore College and Vassar College are also implementing internal carbon pricing and many more institutions are exploring the idea.

Yale-Specific Questions

Q: What is the Yale Carbon Charge?

A: The Yale Carbon Charge is a project testing the effectiveness and feasibility of carbon pricing on Yale’s campus. (Link to About)

Q: How is the Charge calculated?

A: The Yale Carbon Charge determines how many tons of greenhouse gas emissions a building is responsible for by collecting data from energy meters, then applying widely-accepted factors to convert different types of energy into metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE). Yale uses a social cost of carbon of $40 per MTCDE.

Q: What happens with the revenues?

A: The charge is revenue neutral at the university level, meaning the University returns 100% of collected carbon charges to those charged.  But it returns the funds in a different way than it charges.  The result is that the net amount each unit pays is relatively small, but the marginal incentive to reduce emissions is nearly $40 per metric tonne of carbon dioxide.

Q: How does the charge and return mechanism work?

A: Each administrative unit responsible for buildings has two new lines in its budget starting in fiscal year 2018: One for carbon charges and one to enable the sum of university-wide carbon charges to be returned to the units.  Compared to historical energy consumption, if a building does worse in the current period than Yale as a whole, its charge will be greater than its return and it will end up contributing funds to the carbon charge pool.  If a building does better than Yale, its return will be greater than its charge and it will end up receiving funds from the carbon charge pool.

Q: Which administrative units are participating?
Administrative Operations
Beinecke Library
Central Library
Divinity School
Other Academic Services
Other FAS and Academic Depts
Peabody Museum
Public Safety
School of Architecture
School of Art
School of Drama
School of Forestry and ES
School of Law
School of Management
School of Medicine
School of Music
University General
VP Development
VP New Haven State Affairs
VP Student Life and Secretary
West Campus
Yale Art Gallery
Yale Center for British Art
Yale Health
Q: Where do I find Emissions Information for my building ?

A: Beginning in late September, 2017, Yale lead administrators, operations managers, and facilities superintendents receive carbon charge energy reports for their buildings each month. Yale personnel can ask their lead administrator to send the latest report or can explore energy consumption with Yale’s Energy Explorer tool.

Q: Whom should I contact to improve my building’s energy performance?

A: Every Yale Building has a Facilities Superintendent, who can work with you to improve the energy performance of your building. This map identifies and provides contact information for each Facilities Superintendent.