UW Today

This is an archived article.

December 6, 2007

UW greenhouse gases down 10 percent from 2001 to 2005, inventory finds

News and Information

The UW’s first inventory of greenhouse gas emissions shows that the University reduced overall emissions 10 percent from 2000 to 2005. The inventory includes emissions from the UW Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell campuses and from other facilities that the UW owns or operates.


The gases inventoried include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons. The report was prepared as part of the UW’s participation in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and the Seattle Climate Partnership. The report was compiled by Roel Hammerschlag, a recent master’s degree graduate of the UW’s Evans School of Public Affairs.


“This is a remarkable achievement,” says Sandra Archibald, dean of the Evans School and chair of the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee. “We believe the potential for future progress is great. There is a tremendous capacity at the UW to develop and implement programs to keep us at the forefront nationally in campus sustainability. One of the most important things we can do, as individuals, is to consider the actions we can take in our daily decisions to reduce production of greenhouse gases.”


The study showed that direct emissions were down 9.3 percent over the five-year period. These include emissions from the power plant (which provides heating for 200 buildings and chilled water for air conditioning in 50 buildings), the Montlake Landfill (which releases methane) buildings which generate their own heat and UW-owned vehicles. These decreases were achieved despite increases in the UW population of more than 8 percent.


The UW has an aggressive program of energy conservation that has been in place for over a decade. Interior building temperatures are set to 68 degrees F; most buildings are not air conditioned. The University has transitioned to using energy-efficient lighting throughout its buildings. The power plant boilers all use natural gas as the primary fuel. The boilers are high efficiency with reduced nitrogen oxide emissions.


All new campus construction and renovation is conducted to ensure that buildings meet sustainability standards. The UW as a matter of policy promotes sustainability in land use, development and construction projects.


Greenhouse gases attributable to energy purchased by the University fell 69.5 percent. This drop occurred chiefly because Seattle City Light began delivering electricity to the UW with zero net greenhouse gas emissions (mainly hydroelectric and wind power) in 2005. The UW also uses a centralized energy management and monitoring system, which helps in making decisions that can save energy.


“Other  emissions” rose 7.8 percent. Greenhouse gases attributable to commuting and travel increased, mainly due to increased commuting populations and increased commuting distances by faculty, staff and students.  Still, the UW’s award-winning U-PASS program decreased the percentages of UW Seattle employees and students who drive alone from 25 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2005 and increased the percentage who take transit from 31 percentin 2000 to 38 percent in 2005.


The report also notes that, while not officially part of the inventory, the UW has an aggressive program of waste management and recycling that has resulted in a reduction of about 10 percent in greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste disposal. The UW also manages forest land that is responsible for removing a significant amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.  Harborview Medical Center, which is owned by King County but managed by the UW, reduced emissions by 25 percent.


The UW is in the process of preparing an action plan for future reduction of the university’s carbon footprint. The complete inventory is available for viewing at http://www.washington.edu/admin/facserv/conserve.php. A summary of important figures is below.





























































































































































































































































































































































 

Gross emission


2000 2005


Emission intensity


2000 2005


Scope 1 – direct emissions

       

Seattle

       

Power plant


90,500


82,700


1,530


1,310


Buildings


5,080


6,440


86


102


Vehicles


3,030


3,040


51


48


Landfill


17,000


12,800


287


201


Fugitive gases


1,820


136


31


2


Total


117,000


105,000


1,990


1,660


Tacoma

       

Buildings


341


699


184


285


Vehicles


10


12


6


5


Fugitive gases


n.d.


n.d.


n.d.


n.d.


Total


351


710


190


289


Bothell

       

Buildings


258


622


158


332


Vehicles


133


61


81


32


Fugitive gases


n.d.


n.d.


n.d.


n.d.


Total


392


683


239


364


Outlying facilities


221


239


1,870


1,870


University-wide


118,000


107,000


1,890


1,570

         

Scope 2 – electricity

       

Seattle

       

Central loop


16,100


-


274


-


Other


8,390


4,670


142


74


Total


24,500


4,670


416


74

         

Tacoma


629


343


340


140


Bothell


664


2,730


406


1,460


Outlying facilities


46


144


390


1,130


University-wide


25,900


7,890


413


116

         

Scope 3 – other emissions

       

Seattle

       

Student commuting


19,100


21,800


324


345


Faculty & staff commuting


27,000


32,700


459


517


Professional travel


16,700


18,700


283


295


Off-campus medical


16,700


12,600


282


198


Total


79,500


85,800


1,350


1,350

         

Tacoma


2,150


2,340


1,160


955


Bothell


1,390


1,570


849


837


Outlying facilities


55


62


469


485


University-wide


83,100


89,800


1,330


1,320

         

Grand totals

       

Seattle


221,000


196,000


3,750


3,090


Tacoma


3,130


3,400


1,690


1,380


Bothell


2,450


4,980


1,490


2,660


Outlying facilities


322


445


2,730


3,480


University-wide


227,000


204,000


3,630


3,010

         

Optional Information

       

NSF research vessels


4,380


6,640

   

Seattle campus waste


(7,790)


(6,240)

   

Forest carbon sequestration


(12,200)


(16,400)

   

University-wide total w/ O.I.


212,000


188,000

   
This chart shows the components of the UW’s carbon emissions and how they changed from 2000 to 2005. 
Emission intensities are calculated per gross headcount — students, faculty and staff combined.