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To Zero By Thirty-Five: Swarthmore's Carbon-Free Future

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members, 

In 2021, after years of diligent planning, the Board of Managers approved our energy plan, known as the Roadmap to Zero Carbon. The plan was a blueprint for replacing the College’s aging infrastructure and building a carbon-neutral campus by 2035.

As we transition from planning to execution, we have moved beyond creating a roadmap to zero carbon to the actual work of achieving that goal. To better reflect that evolution, we are renaming our energy plan; the Roadmap to Zero Carbon will now be known as To Zero By Thirty-Five: Swarthmore’s Carbon-Free Future.

To Zero By Thirty-Five (or 20X35) is a bold and exciting articulation of our intentional approach and forward momentum, and it holds us accountable to our goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. My thanks to our colleagues in Sustainability, Facilities, Communications, and others for their efforts in advancing this important work. I invite you to learn more by visiting the 20X35 website. If you have additional questions, please email

Allow me to update you on our progress: The most visible indicator of this work is the fence surrounding Mertz Lawn, the future location of the geoexchange wells that will allow us to heat and cool campus buildings using new, renewable, and clean energy. We had expected to begin the initial sitework for drilling these wells this month. For a variety of reasons, the drilling will be delayed until early 2023. One benefit of that delay is that, though the drilling will begin in the spring, a significant portion of the work will occur during the summer, when fewer people will be on campus and the work will be less disruptive. As a reminder, we are taking measures to limit the noise associated with this work, as well as the impact of construction on pedestrian traffic.

We know the work to achieve our carbon neutrality goals will cause some disruption at times. I appreciate your patience as we make progress on this vital initiative.

My best,

Val Smith