University of Idaho Carbon Foot Print Light in Northern Idaho

Thursday, April 2 2009

April 2, 2009

Written by Donna Emert

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – The University of Idaho is stepping lightly upon the planet at its Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls facilities.

On the Moscow campus, carbon production currently is about 3.5 metric tons per student annually. University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene facilities weigh in at approximately 350 metric tons per year, or a very green 0.5 or 0.6 metric ton per student.

“The university’s facilities in northern Idaho have a very small carbon footprint. From a greenhouse gas standpoint, it’s a pretty efficient operation,” said Darin Saul, University of Idaho Sustainability coordinator and director of the university’s Sustainability Center.

Saul recently directed a study of the carbon emissions from both the Harbor Center at Coeur d’Alene and the university’s Research Park at Post Falls.

Much of the Coeur d’Alene campus facility is devoted to office space, which is less energy intensive than research or residential facilities. Both the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene facilities have far fewer structures than the main campus. The buildings also are relatively new, and therefore more energy efficient.

It’s impossible for almost any enterprise to have no impact on the environment, Saul said. But the university’s Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls facilities produce so little greenhouse gas that they could easily achieve carbon neutral operations. “What you can do is have zero net impact by offsetting your emissions by capturing carbon somewhere else,” explained Saul.

"University of Idaho faculty, staff and students are developing a plan to achieve carbon neutrality, including planting trees at the Research Park in Post Falls,” said Larry Branen, University of Idaho associate vice president for northern Idaho. “University of Idaho students in environmental science and education programs plan to partner with local K-12 students to share the lessons of environmental stewardship in the community."

All University of Idaho campuses are committed to significantly reducing their carbon footprint. In March 2007, the university signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and became a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), making a legally binding commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint is defined as measure of overall contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The measurement includes emissions from energy used to heat and cool facilities, electricity use and fuel used for transportation. Climate change has been attributed to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As a member of the CCX, the university has set a goal of a six percent reduction in its carbon emissions by 2010, to be measured starting from a 2000 baseline. To achieve that goal, the university set incremental reduction goals of 1.5 percent annually; actual reduction achieved in the first year of the agreement was about 2.2 percent, Saul said.

In compliance with both CCX and the ACUPCC agreements, the university recently completed a Moscow campus Greenhouse Gas Assessment and by September of this year will have a plan in place to achieve climate neutrality in its facilities statewide between 2020 and 2025.

To achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible, the university also has committed to a green building policy on all new campus construction, and to minimizing waste.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit 

Media Contact: Joni Kirk, University Communications, (208) 885-7725,

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