Institutional Carbon Neutrality

On April 11, 2007 OSU President Ed Ray signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), requiring OSU to do three things:

  1. Take immediate interim steps to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Measure the institution's emissions every two years
  3. Identify a target date to achieve climate neutrality and create a plan to get there, the most involved and important step in meeting the requirements of the ACUPCC

Because OSU signed before June 30, 2007 it is a charter signatory.

OSU's Interim Steps

ACUPCC signatories are required to take at least two of seven tangible actions while developing comprehensive climate plans. OSU selected the following three actions:

Measuring Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The ACUPCC requires inventorying greenhouse gasses every two years. Inventory reports provide important baselines for action to reduce OSU's greenhouse gas emissions. For enhanced reporting, OSU completes greenhouse gas inventory reports every fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.

OSU Climate Plan: Neutrality by 2025

In 2008 and 2009, the OSU Sustainability Office facilitated a community process to develop the OSU Climate Plan, a strategic plan for climate neutrality that is strongly based on the OSU Strategic Plan. Community input and a review of goals set by the State of Oregon and the Oregon University System helped shape OSU's aggressive goal to achieve neutrality by 2025.

Climate Plan

As a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, OSU has created a plan to become climate neutral - by 2025.

On September 15, 2009, OSU submitted its Climate Plan to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.  Key elements of the Plan include:

Planning Process

In summer 2008, a team of graduate students reviewed documents and collected benchmark information to begin the plan development process. The next steps included a public process whereby the Sustainability Office facilitated volunteer groups of OSU students, faculty and staff in drafting specific parts of OSU's climate plan.

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, OSU hosted a forum where the campus community was asked to help set the direction for university climate goals. Participants were asked to weigh in on priorities and focus areas.

During spring and summer 2009, the Sustainability Office issued several drafts of the Climate Plan and requested feedback from the OSU community through an online survey.

Climate Plan Archives

Version 1.2. A second major revision issued September 9.
Version 1.1. The first major revision was released August 26.
Version 1.0. On Aug.17, 2009, the Sustainability Office completed the first draft of the OSU Climate Plan.

Feedback on the OSU Climate Plan is still welcome.

Resources

State greenhouse gas emission reduction goals (page 2 of the pdf)
Climate Commitment Implementation Guide (pdf)
Env. Health and Engineering's Seven Steps to Developing a Climate Action Plan (pdf)
How to Account for Carbon Sinks in Campus Forests or Lands
Subscribe to Climate Commitment Implementer monthly newsletter
Climate Commitment Reporting System
Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science (pdf)

Also check out the OSU climate planning Google groups page, which archives the work from 2008.

Emissions Categories

The OSU Climate Plan includes the following emissions categories:

It is within these categories that specific emissions targets have been set. 

Agriculture

REDUCTION GOAL: By 2012, reduce net emissions from agricultural activities to no more than 2,150 t CO2e

 FY07  FY08  FY09 FY10 FY12 Target
2,404 t CO2e 2,507 t CO2e 2,410 t CO2e  2,299 t CO2e  2,150 t CO2e
         

Goal Overview

In FY08, emissions from ground transportation contributed almost 12,000 t CO2e. Emissions from student and employee commute, fleet, athletic bus travel, rental car mileage, and personal vehicle mileage used for business purposes are included in this category. Emissions from this category have increased by 13% since 2004, the oldest year with intact data. Some of this increase represents actual growth, while some is a result of improved data collection. Additionally, there are known sources that have not been captured in past inventories, athletics travel reimbursement for example, so actual emissions from this category may increase further.

Progress Summary

Strategy Implementation Period
FY10 Progress  Estimated FY10 Reduction
1: Minimize climate impact of animal husbandry      
2: Minimize climate impact of crop cultivation      
3: Offset remaining emissions from agriculture    

For more detail, please see OSU Climate Plan pages 29-30.

Air Travel

REDUCTION GOAL: By 2012, reduce net emissions from air travel to no more than
40,000 t CO2e

 2007  2008  2009 2010 2012 Target
23,496 t CO2e 23,265 t CO2e 21,652 t CO2e 21,250 t CO2e  40,000 t C02e
         

Goal Overview

In FY08, air travel was the largest source of net emissions for OSU, contributing more than 35,000 t CO2e. Emissions from air travel have increased rapidly in the past years; the European Environmental Agency estimated that emissions from air travel increased 73% between 1990 and 2005. The growth in university‐related air travel and the lack of alternatives to air travel
make this a difficult source to mitigate. Because many university‐related activities occur at great distances from the main campus and because Oregon occupies a coastal – rather than central – location in the United States, air travel is expected remain a necessary transportation mode for a considerable number of faculty.

Even with these complicating factors, emissions from air travel can be reduced without drastically impacting the way OSU does business.

Progress Summary

Strategy Implementation Period FY10 Progress  Estimated FY10 Reduction
1: Encourage alternative transportation modes  FY11  N/A  
2: Restrict air travel (or reimbursements) in certain cases      
3: Encourage use of alternatives to travel (technologies such as teleconferencing, etc.)  FY11 Teleconferencing  
4: Minimize climate impact of air travel      
5: Offset remaining emissions from air travel      

For more detail, please see OSU Climate Plan pages 24-26.

Electricity

REDUCTION GOAL: By 2012, reduce net emissions from electricity to no more than
500 t CO2e

 2007  2008  2009 2010 2012 Target
80,503 t CO2e 31,074 t CO2e 28,543 t CO2e  42,854 t CO2e 500 t CO2e

Goal Overview

In FY08, gross emissions from electricity generation and distribution was the largest source of emissions for OSU, contributing over 85,000 t CO2e. However, due to the large purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) funded by student‐endorsed
renewable energy fee, net emissions for electricity amounted to just over 32,000 t CO2e. Electricity use has grown by 19% since 1998, the oldest year with intact data. Emissions from electricity are expected to decrease by 50% over the coming years as a result of the Energy Center.

Progress Summary

Strategy 1 Increase efficiency of electrical system
Tactic FY10 FY11  
# of projects Est. CO2e mitigated # of projects Est. CO2e mitigated  
1. Replace T12 lamps and ballasts with T8 components          
           

 

 

                                 Strategy 2                       Decrease user electricity consumption (conservation)
Tactic FY10 FY11
# of installations  Est. CO2e mitigated # of installations Est. CO2e mitigated
1. Install occupancy sensors 5

 

   
2. Ensure that power management on CPUs, monitors and printers is active

 

 

   
3.        

For more detail, please see OSU Climate Plan pages 27-28.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measurement and Reporting

Measuring and Tracking Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Fiscal Year 2012 Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report

 

The OSU Sustainability Office measures OSU's greenhouse gas emissions annually through a very detailed inventory process and issues a public report that illustrates emissions by emissions source. FY12 emissions from major emissions sources are shown in Figure 1.

OSU FY11 Comprehensive Emissions

 

Defining Climate Neutrality

A central tenet of the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is the "pursuit of climate neutrality".  Climate neutrality is defined as having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  This is to be achieved by minimizing emissions as much as possible, and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions. This applies to all Scope 1 and 2 emissions (defined below), as well as those Scope 3 emissions from commuting and from air travel paid for by or through the institution.

  • Scope 1: direct GHG emissions from sources owned or controlled by the institution such as combustion of natural gas, gasoline, propane and diesel, and other sources
  • Scope 2: indirect emissions from purchased electricity

Measuring GHG Emissions

Scope and Boundaries

Identifying scope and boundaries issues is a critical step in emissions reporting.  In an effort to measure all emissions resulting from OSU activity, the boundaries were drawn to be fairly broad: any emissions from an entity over which OSU has financial and/or operational control were included.

Some emissions sources are intentionally omitted due to unavailable data, poor data quality or the inability to properly calculate emissions, mainly as a result of uncertain emissions calculation methodology.  Omitted sources include

  • Miscellaneous directly-financed travel
  • Water treatment and distribution
  • Long-distance student travel
  • Lifecycle/embodied emissions
  • Off-campus vehicle use and solid waste

Past inventory comparison

Past, current and future inventories may not be absolutely comparable for all source categories.  Fiscal year greenhouse gas emissions reports are static; once submitted, data are not altered.  Yet in the most current annual report, past year emissions totals are updated to present the highest-quality data using the latest calculation methods. Because of this, comparing emissions from emission sources based on annually reported values may not align with comparative values described in a report.  For instance, the FY09 report notes a 10.6% decrease in air travel emissions from FY08 to FY09.  Using emissions data presented in the FY08 report, the decrease would be 41.0%.  This difference is due to a data reporting miscommunication in the FY08 report. For the most accurate year-to-year comparisons, reference the most recent annual report.  Updated net emissions from FYs '07, '08, '09. and '10 are shown in Figure 2.

Net Emissions Comparision

 

Peer institution comparison

An integral piece of measuring emissions is comparing data with peer institutions.  All ACUPCC signatories are required to submit emissions reports to the ACUPCC reporting website.  Figure 3 shows inter-institutional emissions comparisons with peer institutions.

 

Emissions Reports

Fiscal Year 2013 Report

In June 2014, the OSU Sustainability Office completed the Fiscal Year 2013 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report.

View the full Fiscal Year 2011 Inventory report of OSU greenhouse gas emissions.

Fiscal Year 2012 ReportInstitutional Comparison

Emissions by source are shown in Figure 4.

FY12 Emissions by Source

View the full Fiscal Year 2012 Inventory report of OSU greenhouse gas emissions. 

Fiscal Year 2011 Report

In January 2012, the OSU Sustainability Office completed the Fiscal Year 2011 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report, similar to the most recent reports below.

View the full Fiscal Year 2011 Inventory report of OSU greenhouse gas emissions.

Fiscal Year 2010 Report

In March 2011, the OSU Sustainability Office completed the Fiscal Year 2010 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report. Very similar in scope and boundaries to the FY09 report, this latest report includes for the first time emissions from the Energy Center, non-contract car rentals, non-TRES reimbursed travel, and more.

View the full Fiscal Year 2010 Inventory report of OSU greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Fiscal Year 2009 Report

In March 2010, the OSU Sustainability Office completed the Fiscal Year 2009 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report. Very similar in scope and boundaries to the FY08 report, this latest report implements best practices in greenhouse gas measurement and reporting. It is the most accurate and comprehensive performed to date.

View the full Fiscal Year 2009 Inventory report of OSU greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Fiscal Year 2008 Report

In March 2009, the OSU Sustainability Office completed the Fiscal Year 2008 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report. The Sustainability Office refined and implemented major changes relative to FY07 in the FY08 scope and boundaries, and updated processes based on internationally-recognized updates in greenhouse gas reporting.

View the full Fiscal Year 2008 Inventory report of OSU greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Fiscal Year 2008 OUS Lifecycle/Embodied Emissions Analysis

In the summer of 2009, the Oregon University System contracted with Good Company to provide an analysis of the embodied emissions (emissions produced during the lifecycle of a produce) of goods and services purchased by the seven OUS institutions.  These emissions, which include emissions from construction, food, paper, equipment and furniture, were calculated based on expenditures incurred during FY08 and totaled nearly 85,000 t CO2e for OSU.

View the full analysis of lifecycle/embodied emissions of Oregon University System campuses.

 

Fiscal Year 2007 Report

In June 2008, the Sustainability Office completed the greenhouse gas inventory report for FY07. This was the first comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory completed by OSU.

The FY07 report details emissions sources and their relative contribution to OSU's emissions profile, contains an apples-to-apples comparison with the CY04 report and also elaborates about methodology and the new expanded scope that, in its time, made the FY07 inventory the most accurate produced for OSU.

View the full Fiscal Year 2007 Inventory report.

 

Calendar Year 2004 Report

In 2006 and 2007, the Oregon University System hired Good Company to create the first ever greenhouse gas inventory for the seven OUS campuses. As part of that work, Good Company created profiles for each institution based on available data, which varied from campus to campus.

View the full Calendar Year 2004 Inventory Report of Oregon University System campuses.

 

1990 estimate report

In 2009, the Oregon University System hired Good Company to estimate 1990 emissions resulting from buildings for all seven OUS campuses. This emissions estimate was calculated using campus building square footage and a study on building energy use for the western United States. 

View the 1990 estimate draft report for the Oregon University System campuses.