Washington University has completed its greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a key component of the University's sustainability strategic plan, announced Matt Malten, assistant vice chancellor for sustainability.
This report identifies the University's "carbon footprint" and will be used to develop a greenhouse gas reduction strategy that will reduce the University's impact on global climate change.
Although no federal, state or local regulations require the University to report its current greenhouse gas emissions, the University determined it was imperative to voluntarily define its inventory, Malten said.
"The strong majority of scientific opinion is that global climate change is occurring at an increasing rate and it is being induced by man-made greenhouse gases," Malten said.
"The University has chosen to be a leader by demonstrating how to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, our energy use and costs, and our impact on human-induced global climate change," Malten said. "Completing this inventory was a necessary first step for us to do that."
The inventory was completed in accordance with industry-recognized standards and compares the University's greenhouse gas emissions from Fiscal Year 1990 (313,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) with the emissions in Fiscal Year 2009 (409,500 metric tons).
The University chose to compare its current numbers with Fiscal Year 1990 because 1990 was the first year WUSTL began tracking criteria air pollutants, and 1990 also is the baseline year in the Kyoto Protocol, which is an international agreement made in 1997 among nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The report also compares the amounts of direct University emissions, indirect emissions from purchased electricity and other emissions from 1990 and 2009.
The University's direct greenhouse emissions actually have decreased since 1990 despite significant campus growth, Malten said. Emissions ratios show that emissions per total building square feet and emissions per the operating budget have decreased, Malten said.
While direct emissions and several emissions ratios have decreased, overall emissions, energy indirect emissions and other emissions have increased.
"The inventory reveals several important points," Malten said. "First, our emissions are increasing and that it is largely related to the physical growth of the University. But the inventory also reveals that, as we have grown, we have done so in a way that is continually improving our energy efficiency.
"This is a clear indication that our energy efficiency initiatives that began in the early 1990s are being very successful and that they provide a key to our future greenhouse gas reduction strategy," Malten said.
The report found that much of the University's greenhouse gas emissions (approximately 87 percent) come from either purchased electricity or stationary fuel combustion at the University. Both provide campuses with heating and electricity.
While the University already has taken measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, there still is much to be done, Malten said.
"We have clearly demonstrated that we can become more efficient and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions on a normalized rate," Malten said. "But, the University is committed to achieving absolute reductions of our greenhouse gas emissions.
"We plan to reveal our preliminary greenhouse gas reduction strategy later this year. The plan will include significant further investment in energy conservation measures and other strategies so we can reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
As the University works to finalize its greenhouse gas reduction strategy, Malten encourages all members of the University community to do their part by using energy wisely and conservatively.
WUSTL partnered with Kansas City-based engineering firm Burns & McDonnell to gauge its greenhouse gas emissions and create the inventory.
For more detailed information about the University's greenhouse gas emissions, the full report can be viewed at sustain.wustl.edu.
WUSTL greenhouse gas emissions summary
|Emission source category
||FY 1990 emissions
(metric tons CO2e)
|FY 2009 emissions
(metric tons CO2e)
|Scope 1: direct emissions
|Scope 2: energy indirect emissions
|Scope 3: other indirect emissions