Carbon Footprint Background
In the fall of 2008, the University of New Haven decided it would be important to calculate its Carbon Footprint as one method to assess campus sustainability. Sodexo’s education partner, The Loyalton Group, offered to create a provisional and baseline carbon footprint for the University for fiscal year 2008-2009, and delivered that footprint to the University of New Haven in the fall of 2009. During the summer of 2010, Civil Engineering junior, Matt Altonji, validated the footprint as part of his summer undergraduate research (SURF) project. The following carbon footprint report is based upon Loyalton’s initial findings and adjustments made by Matt Altonji, under the direction of Amy Thompson, Assistant Professor of System Engineering in the Tagliatela College of Engineering, based upon new findings and clarifications in data and processes at UNH.
The University of New Haven Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory (Carbon Footprint) Report
A GHG Emissions Inventory is an analysis, typically updated annually, of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted due to university related activities. It can be helpful to think of a GHG Emission Inventory as a budget that keeps track of university greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (CO2, CH4 and N2O) contribute to global warming by absorbing the radiation that would otherwise leave the earth’s atmosphere. The quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by the university and university related activities are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCDE). Most of the MTCDE calculations were made using version 6 of an excel spreadsheet developed by a small nonprofit organization called Clean Air - Cool Planet (generally the spreadsheet is abbreviated as CACP v6). This spreadsheet tool is used by thousands of universities in the United States and is the most widely used tool to calculate university GHG emissions inventories.
In the future, the university will use our GHG Emissions Inventory as the basis for making plans to reduce campus-related greenhouse gas emissions and reduce or modify the use of forms of energy which contribute to greenhouse gases. Data will continue to be generated each year and a periodic report will be made public.
About the Clean Air Cool Planet version 6 (CACP v6) Spreadsheet Tool
The CACP v6 spreadsheet was designed specifically for universities to calculate their own GHG Emissions Inventory. The CACP v6 spreadsheet, like most GHG Emissions Inventory calculation tools, uses principles laid out in the “Greenhouse Gas Protocol,” published by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Raw data such as kWh of electricity purchased annually or MMBTU’s of natural gas combusted can be entered into the spreadsheet. From there, the CACP v6 spreadsheet typically calculates an estimated amount of CO2, CH4, N2O and other greenhouse gases using conversion factors from US government sources, primarily the Energy Information Agency (EIA), Annual Energy Review#mce_temp_url# and Annual Energy Outlook. According to the well-established greenhouse gas protocols, the impact of six groups of greenhouse gases upon the environment must be estimated in a GHG Emissions Inventory. In order to calculate the GHG Emissions Inventory using a standard unit of measure, the impact of each gas, or its global warming potential (GWP), has been estimated by scientists using scientific experimentation and study. This GWP is based upon the unique attributes of each gas to contribute to heat trapping within the earth’s atmosphere. These GWP conversion factors have been adopted by the IPCC, International Panel on Climate Change, and are the basis for greenhouse gas emissions calculations internationally.
Greenhouse gas emissions are divided into three categories according to the WRI/WBSCD GHG Protocol. Scope 1 emissions can come from either owned or controlled assets, defined by the organizational boundary. These can include natural gas combustion, university owned vehicles and refrigerant leakage, where the university has direct control over the emission sources. Scope 2 emissions, such as those needed to generate purchased electricity, are imported emissions where the university has control over demand and consumption, but the emissions are generated by an entity that is separate from the university. With purchased electricity, the university can reduce its own electricity use, but it has little control over how the electricity is generated. Finally, Scope 3 emissions are those generated by university related activities, such as commuting to UNH. The university has the least amount of control over Scope 3 emissions so the WRI GHG Protocol considers them optional reporting. The current University of New Haven carbon footprint reports Scope 3 emissions for Transportation and Distribution emissions due to losses in the electric grid (T&D losses). Carbon footprints for future years may add commuter or business travel greenhouse gas emissions. (List of other possible Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions)
Discussion of Results and Future Directions
Preliminary analysis of the University of New Haven GHG Emissions Inventory indicates that greenhouse gas emissions for the fiscal year 2008 add up to 7,169 MTCDE or 1.77 MTCDE/student based upon a student population of 4,047 full time students. Of this total amount, the largest contributor to the GHG emissions for UNH is due to purchased electricity. Approximately 4,101.9 MTCDE, or 57.21% of total emissions consists of purchased electricity along with an additional 405.7 MTCDE, or 5.66% of emissions consisting of Scope 2 T&D emissions related to delivering the purchased electricity to campus. This was followed by 2,601.8 MTCDE, or 36.29%, of total emissions from on- campus natural gas combustion used for heating and hot water. Finally, university owned vehicles and refrigerant leakage accounted for 55.2 and 5.4 MTCDE, respectively, or less than 1% of total emissions.
Table 1 gives a comprehensive breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption related to those emissions, while Figure 1 shows a percent of total MTCDE for each section of the emissions inventory. Figure 2 shows the breakdown of emissions by scope. The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from processing of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated on-campus is discussed separately from the other sections of the emissions inventory. A detailed discussion of municipal solid waste can be found below.
Table 1. UNH Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source from CACP v6
Scope 1 - Emissions
Natural gas combustion. The University of New Haven burns natural gas on campus for heat and hot water. The annual amount of natural gas consumed (measured in MMBTU’s or Therms) is obtained from gas invoices and entered into the CACP v6 spreadsheet which converts the MMBTUs of combusted natural gas to tons of carbon dioxide, methane, an nitrous oxide, then finally to MTCDE. The conversion factors are taken from EPA’s Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. For the year 2008, the university burned 49,175 MMBTU’s of natural gas resulting in 2,601.8 MTCDE, or 36.2%, of total emissions. This number differs slightly from the original Loyalton Report value due to the fact that Loyalton used the CACP v5 spreadsheet rather than the newer CACP v6, which has corrected and updated factors.
University Owned vehicles. This section accounts for the Scope 1 emissions caused by the combustion of fuel in university owned vehicles. The University of New Haven Safety and Transportation Department, along with the University of New Haven Facilities Department, provided fuel efficiency and mileage data for university vehicles, which consist of UNH police cars, shuttle vans, and other miscellaneous equipment. The greenhouse gas emissions from university owned vehicles are estimated by entering into CACP v6 the total gallons of fuel consumed annually. CACP v6 uses conversion factors derived from the US Department of Transportation’s National Transportation Statistics. For the year 2008, the University- owned vehicles consumed 6,183 gallons of gasoline, leading to emissions of 55.2 MTCDE, or 0.77% of total emissions.
Refrigeration. This section of the GHG emissions inventory accounts for the annual leakage of chemical refrigerants, which is estimated on the basis of the amount of refrigerants added to UNH equipment each year. Since many chemical refrigerants are greenhouse gases, a simple GWP conversion factor from the EPA’s Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks can be used to calculate the MTCDE. In 2008, approximately seven pounds of a refrigerant, known as Forane R22, or HCFC-22, leaked into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to 5.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide or just 0.08% of total greenhouse gas emissions at UNH. See the GWP table, page 22 of the 1995 Working Group 1 Second edition report for more information on R22(HCFC-22).
Scope 2 - Emissions
Purchased Electricity. Emissions caused by generating the electricity purchased by the university are considered Scope 2 emissions because the university can only control how much electricity it purchases. In 2008, the university did not have direct control over the way the energy was produced. The kWh of electricity purchased annually by the university was obtained from university electricity invoices and then entered into CACP v6. Using the kWh of electricity and EPA eGRID conversion factors specific to power generation in the New England region, CACP v6 first calculates the amount of energy (in MMBTU’s) needed to produce UNH’s electricity, and then converts that into greenhouse gas emissions. For the year 2008, the University of New Haven purchased 9,906,366 kWh of electricity resulting in emissions of 4,101.9 MTCDE, or 57.2%, of the total emissions.
*The energy input to the power plant is some mixture of fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, or could also contain energy produced by nuclear, solar or wind power. The EIA collects data by region and state, so conversion factors are estimated based upon our location in the national power grid.
Scope 3 - Emissions
Transportation and Distribution emissions (Scope 2 T&D Losses). T&D losses are emissions caused by the energy losses in transporting and distributing Scope 2 energy sources, such as purchased electricity, to campus. They are counted as Scope 3 for the university, because the university has almost no control over the efficiency of the power grid. Scope 2 T&D emissions are calculated by CACP v6 based upon the kWh of electricity used by the university and the characteristics of the NEWE New England section of the US power grid. Conversion factors from eGRID are applied within CACP v6. In 2008, the University of New Haven purchased 9,906,366 kWh of electricity resulting in Scope 2 T&D emissions totaling 405.7 MTCDE, or 5.66%, of the university’s overall emissions, based upon the EPA GHG Protocol.
Glossary for Terms for links and hover-oversAll-American Waste. All-American Waste is the company that handles municipal solid waste (MSW), otherwise known as garbage and recycling, for the University of New Haven. They also provided data and estimates on total campus waste generation and recycling.
CACP v6. Clean Air - Cool Planet version 6 is a GHG Emissions Inventory EXCEL-based calculator designed for universities. This tool is developed and updated by Clean Air -Cool Planet, a nonprofit organization. The final UNH report version 6 of this software.
Carbon footprint or carbon emissions footprint. A carbon footprint is a record of the greenhouse gases estimated to be emitted due to organization activities. The formal name for a carbon footprint is a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.
eGrid. eGrid is short for Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database. eGRID is a database produced by the EPA that characterizes and reports electricity generation patterns and the resulting pollutants emitted throughout the United States. The CA-CP spreadsheets use eGRID information concerning different regions of the country to calculate conversion factors that estimate greenhouse gas emission related to purchased electricity. eGRID website
EIA. The EIA is the United States Energy Information Administration. The EIA is a government agency within the US department of energy responsible for analyzing and reporting on energy generation and use patterns within the US. TheCA-CP spreadsheet uses data from the EIA’s Annual Energy Review and Annual Energy Outlook reports for many of its calculations.
EPA or US EPA. The EPA is the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is a branch of the federal government tasked with protecting the environment along with publishing research about environmental issues. The EPA has published its own GHG Protocol for organizations in the US based upon and consistent with the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol. The EPA’s CLIMATE LEADERS GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY PROTOCOL differs in that it provides further explanation concerning methodologies, including more specific examples and preferred methods. The EPA also encourages organizations within the US to use more specific data related to conversion factors provided by the EIA, as opposed to using international averages and estimates.
FTSE or Full time student equivalent. Full time student equivalents are used to account for the smaller amount of time that part time students spend on campus, while still producing a single number for the UNH student population. Basically each full time student has an FTSE of one while part time student s might have an FTSE of 0.5, indicating that the average part time student spends half as much time on campus as a full time student. The FTSE are added to get a total student population in full time student equivalents.
Greenhouse gas (GHG). These are gases that contribute to global warming by absorbing radiation emitted from the surface of the earth that would otherwise be emitted back into space. Major greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrogen dioxide (N2O), Hydro-fluorocarbons (HFC’s), perfluorocarbons (PFC’s) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (also referred to as a Carbon Footprint). A GHG emissions inventory is a record of the greenhouse gases estimated to be emitted due to organization activities. Typically, GHG emissions inventories are reported annually.
GWP. GWP is short for global warming potential. GWP is the number of tons of carbon dioxide that has the same effect on global warming as one ton of any given greenhouse gas. This scientific calculation was developed by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their report, IPCC Second Assessment Report, Climate Change 1995, The Science of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group 1. The GWP table can be found on page 22 of that report.
Sodexo-Loyalton Carbon Footprint (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory). Loyalton is a small private company that created a preliminary and baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the fiscal year 2008 for the University of New Haven. Loyalton used CACP v5 spreadsheet along with some of their own internal calculation methods, based upon their expertise in creating hundreds of carbon footprints for universities in the US. A link to this footprint is provided for comparison to the official University of New Haven Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for 2008. The published report by UNH is based upon analysis of the Loyalton report and verification and validation of raw data, methods, and conversion factors.
MMBTU. MMBTU is an acronym for one million British Thermal Units, which is a unit of energy. One MMBTU is equal to 293.1 kWh.
MSW. Municipal Solid Waste is the garbage and recyclables disposed on campus. The mass of MSW generated is measured in short tons (an English unit of measurement) as opposed to metric tons. One short ton = 0.907 metric tons.
MTCDE. MTCDE is an acronym for metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. MTCDE is a standardized measure of the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted. MTCDE is based upon using the appropriate GWP (global warming potential) conversion factor published by the International Panel on Climate Change, which is part of the United Nations.
Scope 1, or direct emissions. These are emissions caused by sources under the direct ownership or control of the university, such as natural gas combustion, gasoline and diesel consumption by university owned vehicles and refrigerant leakage. Methodology concerning control vs. ownership is determined by the setting or organizational boundaries according to EPA’s Climate Leader’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Protocol: Design Principles.
Scope 2, or imported emissions. These are emissions that occur due to purchasing energy resources from an external energy provider (utility). Thus, the university has direct control over how much it consumes, but for the greenhouse gas emissions involved in producing the resource or energy.
Scope 3, or optional emissions. These are emissions that created due to university related activities, but are not under the control of the university, such as commuting. Reporting categories within this Scope are considered optional, however, the University of New Haven should report on categories that contribute significant greenhouse gases or that the university has a strong ability to reduce. Scope 3 emissions sources could include student commuting, faculty and staff commuting, university-related travel, contracted or outsourced services not covered in Scope 1, T&D losses, supply chain for purchased fuels (i.e. exploring, processing and transporting fuels to where they are used), and the energy and resources consumed in producing purchased goods and waste water.
T&D Losses. T&D losses are Scope 2 transportation and distribution losses. These are greenhouse gas emissions that result from energy losses while distributing a Scope 2 energy source. An example would be the energy lost while transporting electricity from the power plant to the end user. T&D losses are counted as Scope 3 emission because the University of New Haven has virtually no control over the efficiency of the power grid.
Therm. A Therm is a unit of energy and is used to quantify the amount of natural gas consumed. One MMBTU equals ten (10) Therms.
Waste Stream and Waste Management
In its September 2006 report, the EPA presented a study of environmental impact due to waste management decisions in its report, Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases: A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks, also known as the “WARM Report.” The EPA has updated this report as new findings and evidence have emerged. The latest WARM “model” is available through the EPA website (http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/waste/calculators/Warm_home.html) with the most current data for MTCDE calculations related to waste management decisions. The latest emission factors, reflecting these ongoing revisions, can be found on EPA’s “Measuring Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Waste” website at
“In 2003, the United States generated 236.2 million tons of MSW, an increase of 15 percent over 1990 generation levels and 168 percent over 1980 levels. Climate change is also a serious issue, and the United States is embarking on a number of voluntary actions to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that can intensify climate change. By presenting material-specific GHG emission factors for various waste management options, this report examines the interrelationship between MSW management and climate change… Among the efforts to slow the potential for climate change are measures to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from energy use, decrease emissions of methane (CH4) and other non-carbon-dioxide GHGs, and promote long-term storage of carbon in forests and soil.” – EPA
The EPA reports that municipal solid waste (MSW) management decisions affect at least one of the following activities that lead to changes in GHG in the atmosphere: energy consumption, non-energy-related manufacturing emissions, methane emissions from landfills where the waste is disposed, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from waste combustion, and carbon sequestration. The first four add GHG to the atmosphere whereas the latter reduces GHG concentrations by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The EPA WARM model considers effects during raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management; waste management decisions are not considered to effect the product use phase, and so product use is not considered in the model.
Finally, a statement on the EPA WARM website declared, “The WARM [tool is] based on a life-cycle approach, which reflects emissions and avoided emissions upstream and downstream from the point of use. As such, the emission factors provided in these tools provide an account of the net benefit of these actions to the environment. This life-cycle approach is not appropriate for use in inventories because of the diffuse nature of the emissions and emission reductions within a single emission factor.” (US EPA WARM, 2009) From Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases: A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks, the EPA says, “Please note that the emission factors presented in this report are intended to be compared with one another. They are not meant to reflect absolute [MTCDE] values, but instead reflect the impact of choosing one waste management option over another for a given material type. This convention enabled EPA to calculate emission impacts from a waste generation reference point (i.e., from the moment a material is discarded). This process is in contrast to a typical life-cycle analysis, which reflects a raw materials extraction reference point. “Upstream” emissions and sinks are captured in EPA’s streamlined methodology once a baseline waste management practice is compared to an alternative waste management practice.”
There is debate in the sustainability community on whether avoided emissions and reductions in GHG due to waste management strategies should be included in Scope 3 “Other Emissions” or in an emissions inventory at all. UNH has decided to separate the GHG emissions reductions from the UNH Carbon Footprint at this time.
from Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases: A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks
Source reduction can be achieved through removal of weight in a product, reusing materials that would have been discarded, or through techniques like using double-sided copying that reduces the need for source material.
from Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases: A Life-Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks
How to Use the EPA WARM Model
The proper way to use the EPA WARM conversion factors is to obtain estimates of the percentage of the total in each waste category that gets recycled, incinerated or composted and then multiply those tonnages by their respective MTCDE/ton conversion factors. For example, let’s say UNH generates 10 tons of aluminum and recycles 8 tons while incinerating the remaining 2 tons:
Total MTCDE for Chosen Method = 8tons *(MTCDE/ton recycled) + 2tons * (MTCDE/ton incinerated)
The emissions associated with the baseline waste management method of land-filling are:
Total MTCDE for Alternate Method = 10 tons * (MTCDE/ton land-filled)
So by recycling and incinerating vs. land-filling the total difference in waste management method is:
Total Difference = Total MTCDE for Chosen – Total MTCDE for Alternate
Emissions Reductions at UNH due to Recycling and Incineration vs. Land-filling
All American Waste, UNH’s current waste hauler, provided additional information about the recycling rates for various waste categories at UNH, which allowed for the proper use of the EPA WARM method. Tables below show the estimate of savings in MTCDE due to recycling or incineration of waste material as opposed to the waste management decision to land-fill this material. 100% of MSW from UNH gets incinerated and 100% of mixed paper, newsprint, cardboard, and co-mingled recycling gets recycled.
The following MTCDE factor for mixed paper, newsprint, and cardboard was obtained from averaging corrugated cardboard, magazines/third-class mail, newspaper, office paper, phonebooks, textbooks, mixed paper broad, mixed paper residential and mixed paper office. The co-mingled recycling MTCDE factor was obtained by averaging factors for aluminum, glass, steel and plastics and the MTCDE factor for MSW is also obtained from averages and estimates from the EPA WARM model. These factors are then multiplied by the number of short tons of each material type to obtain an estimate of MTCDE savings due to UNH’s waste management decision. The original factor table from the EPA WARM model is shown.
In conclusion, UNH saved approximately 622 MTCDE of greenhouse gas emissions by choosing to landfill and incinerate vs. landfill for its waste during the 2008-2009 fiscal year.