Western Michigan University GHG Inventory (Baseline Year 2007)
Author(s): Christopher Caprara, Kaitlyn Shields, Kelly Krug, Matt Van Ness
Course Name: ENVS 4100: Appropriate Technology & Sustainability: The Campus as a Living, Learning Laboratory
Institution: Western Michigan University
Environmental Studies and Sciences
Publication Date: April, 2009
Paper Type: Non-thesis Undergraduate Student Research
We believe that a prerequisite to thoughtfully assessing the feasibility of signing the ACUPCC, is to have a rich understanding of Western Michigan University’s (WMU) current GHG emissions. For our ENVS 4100 project we chose to assist Dr. Glasser and the PUSC by performing a GHG inventory of WMU. This GHG inventory enables WMU to: (1) have a baseline estimate prior to signing the ACUPCC; (2) meet one of the conditions of the ACUPCC; (3) explore benchmarking ourselves relative to peer institutions; and (4) strategically plan a high-leverage GHG reduction strategy (including setting a viable target date for climate neutrality).
Performing this assessment allowed us to model WMU's sustainability commitment and the WMU goal statement of promoting responsible environmental stewardship. The GHG inventory also aids in fulfilling three principles of the Talloires Declaration. It will increase our awareness of environmentally sustainable development, allow us to practice institutional ecology, and help us maintain the movement. We used the Clean Air-Cool Planet protocol to estimate WMU’s GHG emissions. We also estimated some emissions through custom approaches that we designed to provide more detailed information for improving policy and practice on campus (such as for refrigerants).
Emissions are broken down into scope I, II, and III. Scope I emissions are directly associated with campus activities, and result from university owned sources. Scope II emissions are indirect emissions from non-university owned sources, but are closely associated with campus activities. Scope III emissions are indirect emissions from outside sources, but are either financed or encouraged by the university. Our inventory focused on six GHG’s: CO2, CH4, N2O, CFC’s, HCFC’s, and HFC’s. We collected the majority of our data through university faculty and staff, who were exceedingly helpful. We also collected some data through the City of Kalamazoo and an online commuting behavior survey.
In 2007 the university produced 126,411 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalents (eCO2), and per capita emissions of 5.1 metric tons per full time equivalent (FTE) student, faculty, and staff. A summary of the Scope I, II, III, and total eCO2 emissions data follows:
• Scope I: 59,283 MT eCO2
• Scope II: 27,256 MT eCO2
• Scope III: 39,872 MT eCO2
Our study has helped stimulate collaborative research on campus to reduce GHG emissions in a wide variety of areas, including: building on WMU’s extensive energy and water conservation efforts, identifying alternatives to traditional refrigerants, storage of excess electricity through ice storage, using waste vegetable oil to run campus diesel lawnmowers, and eliminating the GHG emissions associated with the status quo of sending food waste to the City Waste Water Treatment Facility via disposals. These are all areas of research that would significantly reduce our overall emissions, and lead to best practice sharing with other HE institutions and the community. By clarifying where we stand and by highlighting high-leverage interventions and research opportunities, this baseline assessment has helped pave the way for the President’s Universitywide Sustainability to recommend that WMU sign the ACUPCC.
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