Reporting System

GHG Report for University of Colorado at Boulder

Submitted on September 15, 2010; last updated on October 18, 2010

Summary Statistics

Making fair comparisons between higher education institutions is always challenging due to the rich diversity of higher education. The unverified nature of the information in this database and unavailability of unbiased normalization metrics means such comparisons are even more difficult. Users should therefore approach direct institution to institution comparisons with caution and recognize that all comparisons between institutions are inherently biased.
Total Per Full-Time Enrollment Per 1000 Square Feet % Offset
Gross emissions (Scopes 1 + 2) 142,111 metric tons of CO2e 4.7 metric tons of CO2e 14.0 metric tons of CO2e 3%
Gross emissions (Scopes 1 + 2 + 3) 182,885 metric tons of CO2e 6.1 metric tons of CO2e 18.0 metric tons of CO2e 2%
Net emissions 178,912 metric tons of CO2e 6.0 metric tons of CO2e 17.6 metric tons of CO2e N/A

Emissions Inventory Methodology and Boundaries

Start date of the 12-month period covered in this report January 1, 2009
Consolidation methodology used to determine organizational boundaries Equity share approach
If any institution-owned, leased, or operated buildings or other holdings that should fall within the organizational boundaries are omitted, briefly explain why.


Emissions calculation tool used Custom tool
Please describe why this tool was selected.

To enable enhanced data consolidation, tracking and analysis, UCB chose to create its own basic emissions calculation spreadsheet tool. This custom tool does, however, adhere to the same basic GHG accounting principles, methodologies and emissions factors used in the CA-CP Calculator.

Please describe the source(s) of the emissions coefficients used.

Xcel Energy, Inc. Annual Reports, and regulatory filings made by Xcel to the Colorado Public Service Commission.

Which version of IPCC's list of global warming potentials did you use? Third Assessment Report
Who primarily conducted this emissions inventory? Environmental Center Director and Interim Energy Program Manager in cooperation with the Campus Cons
Please describe the process of conducting the inventory.

Data collection for emissions inventory was compiled from pre-existing campus data aggregation and tracking systems in various departments including Accounting, Facilities Management, Parking and Transportation Services, Purchasing, and Human Resources. These data were compared with UCB utility data and data from Xcel Energy.

Please describe any emissions sources that were classified as de minimis and explain how a determination of the significance of these emissions was made.

Identified de minimis sources are: CH4 and N2O from fossil fuel and electricity usage; HFCs from cooling equipment; CO2, CH4 and N2O from fleet transportations fuels; and waste landfilling.
The University of Colorado has several programs and initiatives to reduce emissions in university-owned fleet and waste landfilling (composting and recycling). Although de minimis, we are including emissions from university-owned fleet and waste landfilling in order to measure progress in reductions in these emissions categories.
These sources individually make up less 1% of the total inventory and cumulatively less than 5%. Using standard emissions factors we determined CH4 and N2O from all fossil fuel usage was de minimis, including for electricity. Similarly, using the CA-CP factors for waste we determined these emissions to be less than 1% of the University total.
Using upper-bound calculations of cooling equipment used and building space cooled, we determined HFCs to be less than 1% of the University total. We have not included the refrigerators used in laboratories or dining services as the maintenance and end of life coolant disposal is handled by outside vendors. Even if included in the inventory, we determine these emissions would not be more than 1% of university total.

Please describe any data limitations related to this submission and any major assumptions made in response to these limitations.

One limitation is the emissions factor used to estimate CO2, CH4 and N2O emissions from electricity purchased from our utility, Xcel Energy. As prescribed by the CA-CP tool we used the Department of Energy’s eGRID database of regional emissions factors from electricity generating plants. However, these factors are released with a lag time of several years. The current factors used in our GHG inventory are from 2005. This limitation is common as most entities reporting GHG inventories depend on these factors.

Emissions Data

Emissions from the following sources (in metric tons of CO2e)

Scope 1 Emissions
Stationary Combustion 48,765.0 metric tons of CO2e
Mobile Combustion 1,518.0 metric tons of CO2e
Process Emissions 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Fugitive Emissions 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Total Scope 1 emissions 50,283.0 metric tons of CO2e
Scope 2 Emissions
Purchased Electricity 91,828.0 metric tons of CO2e
Purchased Heating 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Purchased Cooling 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Purchased Steam 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Total Scope 2 emissions 91,828.0 metric tons of CO2e
Scope 3 Emissions
Commuting 12,828.0 metric tons of CO2e
Air Travel 27,033.0 metric tons of CO2e
Solid Waste 913.0 metric tons of CO2e
Total Scope 3 emissions 40,774.0 metric tons of CO2e
Biogenic Emissions
Biogenic Emissions from Stationary Combustion No information provided
Biogenic Emissions from Mobile Combustion No information provided

Mitigation Data

Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets purchased 2,408.0 metric tons of CO2e
Offset verification program(s) Other
Description of offsets purchased (including vendor, project source, etc.)

The Larimer County offset project is designed and managed in accordance with the Climate Action Reserve’s Landfill Gas Protocol. The protocol provides independent and transparent procedures for calculating the emission reductions resulting from destroying methane to produce electricity and verifying the level of offsets by an accredited auditor. The offsets purchased from this project will be registered on the Reserve’s publicly accessible registry and retired on behalf of the donors to the Colorado Carbon Fund who made this transaction possible.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
Total RECs purchased 2179000 kWh
Percent of total electricity consumption mitigated through the purchase of RECs 1.3 %
Emissions reductions due to the purchase of RECs 1,565.0 metric tons of CO2e
REC verification program(s) Green-e
Description of RECs purchased (including vendor, project source, etc.)

Wind energy RECs from Colorado and Minnesota projects.

Sequestration and Carbon Storage
Sequestration due to land owned by the institution No information provided
Description of how sequestration was calculated

No information provided

Carbon storage due to composting No information provided

Normalization and Contextual Data

Building Space
Gross square feet of building space 10,141,285.0 sq ft
Net assignable square feet of laboratory space No information provided
Net assignable square feet of health care space No information provided
Net assignable square feet of residential space No information provided
Total Student Enrollment (FTE) 29988.0
Residential Students No information provided
Full-time Commuter Students No information provided
Part-time Commuter Students No information provided
Non-Credit Students No information provided
Full-time Faculty No information provided
Part-time Faculty No information provided
Full-time Staff No information provided
Part-time Staff No information provided
Other Contextual Data
Endowment Size No information provided
Heating Degree Days No information provided
Cooling Degree Days No information provided
Please describe any circumstances specific to your institution that provide context for understanding your greenhouse gas emissions this year.

Overall, the trend of UCB green house gas (GHG) emissions from major sources is essentially flat in absolute terms and declining in relative terms despite a 14 percent growth in facilities footprint since 2005. This is due to extensive energy efficiency/conservation efforts, the LEED Gold building standard applied to all construction projects, and increasingly “green” electricity being supplied by Xcel Energy. The data indicate:
• Major source GHG emissions are essentially unchanged since 2005 despite the increased facilities footprint.
• Total electricity consumption is essentially unchanged since 2005 despite the increased facilities footprint.
• Total energy use including electricity and natural gas declined over the period due to the robust conservation program despite the increased facilities footprint.
• GHG emissions intensity (carbon per square foot) has declined significantly over the period.
• Emissions from UCB’s vehicle fleet have grown slightly over the period but remain a small fraction of combined emissions.
• Indirect emissions from air travel paid for by the university have declined slightly since FY 08.
• Indirect emissions from faculty, staff, and student commuting and solid waste disposal have declined since FY 08.
• The purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) and carbon offsets have declined slightly since 2006 to less than 3% of major source emissions in 2009.
• UCB’s emissions are below all categorical averages for peer doctorate-granting universities that are also participating in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.
In summary, UCB has essentially halted growth in GHG emissions and is potentially turning the corner towards the emissions reductions needed to meet the first benchmark of the UCB carbon neutrality plan, a 20 percent emissions reduction by 2020.

Supporting Documentation

Completed inventory narrative University of Colorado at Boulder Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Calendar Year 2009 All Scopes & Calendar Years 2005–09 Major Sources Trend
Completed inventory calculator No information provided

Auditing and Verification

These emissions data have not been audited, verified, or peer-reviewed.