Greenhouse Gas Emissions Decrease on UI Campus

Wednesday, January 8 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – As the uncertainty regarding future climate change looms overhead, the University of Idaho is doing its part to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, emissions during 2011 on the UI campus decreased 12.5 percent compared to 2005.

The UI conducts an annual GHG inventory in accordance with the requirements of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) – a Carnegie initiative in which most U.S.-based colleges and universities participate.

The UI signaled its commitment to climate neutrality by signing the Talloires Declaration in 2005. The UI joined the Chicago Climate Exchange and ACUPCC in 2007. The Talloires Declaration and ACUPCC both call for the higher education community to provide leadership in addressing climate change.

The UI GHG inventory guide was prepared by Spencer Batt, research assistant in the UI Sustainability Center, under the supervision of Darin Saul, interim director, Office of Community Partnerships.

“Spencer did a great job of putting together the GHG inventory for the UI. This gives us seven years of continuous data and reporting and a solid base for understanding UI’s GHG emissions,” Saul said, “The inventory will provide a great foundation to start the next round of planning in order to develop an emissions reduction action plan for the UI this spring.”

The UI’s GHG emissions are categorized under scopes 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 accounts for direct emissions caused by on-site activities: stationary combustion (e.g. natural gas and oil for heating), vehicle emissions and fugitive emissions (i.e., GHG emissions from refrigeration systems). Scope 2 accounts for emissions caused indirectly by the combustion of fossil fuel for the generation of electrical power. Scope 3 accounts for any GHG emissions not captured by scope 1 and 2, such as university-funded air travel, waste disposal and emissions generated from livestock production.

The inventory guide is based on data from 2005 to 2011, with 2008 being the peak year for emissions on the UI campus. Compared to the baseline year of 2005, annual cumulative emission declined 12.5 percent — a 4,718 metric ton reduction in carbon dioxide production. Compared to the study period peak year of 2008, annual cumulative emissions declined 16.6 percent in 2011. The reduction is largely due to a decrease in scope 2 emissions (electricity usage), which composes the largest portion of emissions on the UI campus. Energy upgrades in lighting and retrofitting outdated technology in older buildings has played a major role in the decrease of scope 2 emissions as the UI continues to employ energy efficient practices.

Emissions per student are a common metric for comparing ACUPCC-participating universities’ emissions. The UI has recorded a nine percent decrease in this category since 2005, demonstrating an admirable effort to curb emissions. However, comparing emissions between universities is difficult due to the diversity of education and the lack of unbiased normalization metrics at each participating institution.

The UI GHG inventory guide was prepared with the assistance of many UI staff. Of particular note was the generous support by Richard Nagy, UI Resource Conservation Manager. The guide is a preliminary step to writing the UI climate action plan, which consists of mitigation strategies for curbing emissions to achieve our carbon-reduction goals.

For more information please contact Spencer Batt at or follow the link to the UI sustainability center’s website at

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit