The URI Greenhouse Gas Inventory
The University of Rhode Island has been on the frontline of environmental research for decades, headlining incredible breakthroughs in the fields of environmental science and oceanography, and we are now applying that same standard of excellence to our practices on campus. The University signed on to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007, which demonstrated that URI was ready to begin changing the way its facilities operate. Since then, we have made huge strides in sustainable resource management and green living on campus, and creating the Climate Action Plan (CAP) was the next big step in this initiative. One of the major parts of the CAP was making an inventory of the green house gas (GHG) emissions from the Kingston and Narragansett Bay campuses. The initial inventory (which also included data from Feinstein and W. Alton Jones campus) was completed in the fall of 2008 by Dr. S. Bradley Moran, Professor of Oceanography. Data for 2008 and 2009 emissions were collected by the URI Energy Fellows. The highlights on this page are from an updated inventory for 2011, which was compiled by Pete Rolashevich. A PDF version of the complete 2011 GHG Inventory embedded below can be found here.
Below is an overview chart that includes the sources of all of URI's Kingston and Bay campus emissions. In addition to the sources listed in the previous GHG report, two new sources have been added; agricultural emissions, and the URI ocean research vessel Endeavor.
This report was generated using new software that was specifically developed for the University of Rhode Island, known as I.C.E. (Inventory and Calculator of Emissions), using an Excel format similar to the CA-CP (Clean Air-Cool Planet) calculator, but much more user friendly and easier to follow. I.C.E. was developed by the author of this report in order to make the process of reporting emissions easier. I.C.E and the ACUPCC have divided the total emissions into the following scopes of interest:
Scope 1 Emissions include Direct Emissions that are owned and controlled by the University. These include the steam plant on the Kingston Campus and produced heating and cooling for on campus stationary sources, the fleet vehicles that belong to the University, and the Agricultural sources (Peckham Farm) which include animals and nitrogen based fertilizers used.
New to this scope for the 2011 GHG Inventory, the agriculture emission sources are nitrogen-based fertilizers and animals, which are both in controlled use by the university operated Peckham Farm. In order to calculate the emissions, an inventory of the animals at the farm and the amount of fertilizer used to maintain the land were factored in.
This table depicts the amount of eCO2 emissions in Metric Tons (1000kg) coming from agricultural sources at the University.
Scope 2 Emissions include purchased electricity, purchased steam water, and purchased chilled water. The University of Rhode Island only purchases electricity from an outside source. The figure below shows the historical electrical usage for the Kingston and Bay campuses measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).
Scope 3 Emissions are the indirect sources that the University cannot directly control such commuting to campus by the students, faculty, and staff, directly financed travel by car or airplane, transmission and distribution losses from the production of purchased electricity, paper used, and solid waste to landfill. The figure below shows the scope 3 emissions for FY 2005 and 2011.
Other Emissions. This category was created to log the emissions of the URI Research Vessel Endeavor, which is operated by the Graduate School of Oceanography at the Narragansett Bay Campus. The Endeavor travels the world's oceans conducting research with students and teachers alike. As of 2010, the Endeavor had made more than 480 trips, ranging from Narragansett Bay to the Black Sea. Recently, the R/V Endeavor became the first US research vessel to run on biodiesel. The full story on the greening of the Endeavor can be found here.
The table below depicts the eCO2 levels in Metric Tons produced by the Endeavor's travels.
Looking at these graphs and tables, it is easy to see the decrease in emission levels we have achieved since starting this initiative. From Scope 1 we can see the level of emissions from campus stationary (the on campus steam plant) drop by almost 10,000 Metric Tons, and our electric usage has decreased from just over 70,000 kWh to about 60,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) in Scope 2. But we can also see the areas in which we need to improve; Scope 3 shows that the amount of emissions produced by commuting and travel is on the rise. But overall, we are on the path to becoming a truly sustainable university, and continuing to follow the guidelines in the Climate Action Plan will help us to drop our emissions even further.
Natural Resources Science Professor Peter Paton has been in the news a great deal this winter providing expert commentary about an unprecedented invasion of snowy owls from the Arctic into the Northeast and Midwest.