Energy Conservation, Efficiency, and Management, Including Elimination of Greenhouse Gas Emissions


This policy applies to all University students, faculty, staff, affiliates, and visitors. 


In furtherance of George Mason University’s mission, goals, and values, wherever and whenever applicable and feasible, the university will adopt practices (a) make the most efficient use of energy and (b) eliminate climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).  Mason will strive to continually reduce its energy consumption and net greenhouse gas emissions.  To do this, the university will utilize available and emerging technologies and methods to ensure that energy use, investment in energy, and energy consumption and production are optimized in accordance with the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy and related laws and policies.   

Therefore, University faculty, staff, and students will make every effort to and proactively assist the University in its goals to lower energy consumption; reduce expenditures on energy; transition to clean energy sources; decrease greenhouse gas emissions; educate and engage the Mason community in the importance of energy management; and support the University President’s pledge to become climate neutral; Virginia’s commitment to become climate neutral by 2045; and strive to support federal GHG pollution targets of 50% reduction by 2030 and a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.   

The University plans to develop a new Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP) before April 30, 2022.  This existing Energy Policy will remain in effect until the new CEAP is complete. Thereafter, this policy will be reviewed and aligned with the new CEAP, during the summer of 2022. At that time, the existing Energy Plan (which is distinct from the Energy Policy) should also be examined and revised. 


Carbon Intensity: The amount of greenhouse gases released per unit of service(s) delivered.  

Carbon Offset: a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in one location, purchased in order to compensate or mitigate for an emission made elsewhere. 

Climate Neutral:  the condition by which an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions are completely reduced or offset, yielding a net carbon intensity of zero MT CO2e. 

Energy: Purchased fuels, electricity purchased or generated by the University, and thermal energy generated via combustion sources. 

Energy Efficiency: The amount of energy used per unit of service(s) delivered; units vary based on energy source and method of consumption. 

Energy Conservation: Initiatives and efforts aimed at achieving a reduction in energy usage and waste. 

Energy Management: Activities that foster energy conservation, energy efficiency, sustainability, and environmental stewardship. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Emissions which occur during the combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, fuel oil, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, propane, and coal.  These are typically calculated based on metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide equivalent (MT CO2e). 

Renewable Energy: Energy generated from resources that are naturally replenished within a short, human time scale such as solar, wind, falling water, tidal, or biomass.       

Simple Payback Period: The amount of time, in years, that an efficiency method requires to save the same amount of money that it costs to purchase and/or install. 

Sustainability: Sustainability encompasses human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations. (Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, 2009).


George Mason University will pursue a three-tiered energy savings hierarchy of:

  1. Promoting energy conservation practices and energy efficiency systems, 
  2. Developing renewable energy generation and storage, and/or purchasing renewable energy,
  3. Sequestering carbon and/or purchasing carbon offsets for unavoidable sources of emissions.

The University will also promote research and curricula to advance Virginians’ capacity to pursue climate action and a just transition to a clean energy economy. 

This strategy will offer Mason opportunities to save money, reduce its environmental impact and pollution, increase community resilience, equitably distribute the costs and benefits of energy use, and achieve climate neutrality.   

Every fiscal year, Mason will measure and publicly report its total energy reduction progress, along with standard energy intensity and carbon intensity metrics (e.g., energy consumed per 1,000 square feet per year and per full-time equivalent student; and revenue per metric ton of GHG emissions).  


In compliance with, or support of, Commonwealth of Virginia and United States’ laws and policies, and to support our utility providers in their mandatory pursuit of greenhouse gas reduction, Mason hereby sets the following guidelines:   

  • The University will adhere to public procurement law that promotes energy efficient products. 
  • The University will implement energy efficiency and conservation measures to the extent that funds, financing and/or viable cost recovery are available.  
  • Facilities, in collaboration with the Mason Sustainability Council, will determine which energy efficiency and conservation measures to prioritize for implementation.  Determinations will be made on an ongoing basis.
  • (g., Facilities, with input from the Mason Sustainability Council, will identify potential energy efficiency and conservation measures and recommend priorities based on expected payback, investment required, education and research value, and fiscal and environmental impact).  
  • The University will endeavor to implement all measures with a reasonable simple payback period that aligns with the Climate and Energy Action Plan.  
  • When appropriate (e., for projects requiring larger investment or longer time horizons), Mason will consider the future value of money in determining project priority and selection, using an internal rate of return determined by the Finance Office.  

Re-evaluation of Mason’s Energy Plan  

In parallel with the development and institutional adoption of a new Climate and Energy Action Plan in April 2022, the Mason Energy Plan will also be revised. That process shall include stakeholders from across the University populations (students, faculty, staff, alumni, visitors, and community members).  

Elements of that Plan might include, but are not limited to:   

  • Temperature Set Points
  • Occupancy Schedules
  • Occupancy Sensors
  • Water Conservation
  • Energy Management
  • Fleet Vehicle Fuel Efficiency/Electrification Standards
  • Outside Air policy (for building occupants) 
  • Common/Shared Office Equipment Requirements (refrigerators, printers, etc.) 
  • Purchasing Standards for Energy Efficient Appliances, Office Equipment, Lighting, Food Preparation Machines, etc. 



This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President and Provost.  


This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed triennially, at minimum, by Facilities personnel, the Office of Sustainability, and other stakeholders throughout Mason.   



Carol D. Kissal
Senior Vice President, Administration and Finance

Mark R. Ginsberg
Provost and Executive Vice President

Date Approved: September 19, 2016
Revised: May 18, 2021