Reporting System

GHG Report for University of Louisville

Submitted on January 15, 2014; last updated on December 10, 2015

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) 136,037 metric tons of CO2e 7.4 metric tons of CO2e 16.8 metric tons of CO2e 1%
Gross emissions (Scopes 1 + 2 + 3) 192,549 metric tons of CO2e 10.4 metric tons of CO2e 23.8 metric tons of CO2e 0%
Net emissions 191,822 metric tons of CO2e 10.4 metric tons of CO2e 23.7 metric tons of CO2e N/A

Emissions Inventory Methodology and Boundaries

Start date of the 12-month period covered in this report July 1, 2012
Consolidation methodology used to determine organizational boundaries Operational control approach
If any institution-owned, leased, or operated buildings or other holdings that should fall within the organizational boundaries are omitted, briefly explain why.

Several buildings which are associated with the University but not owned or operated by UofL are not included in this report. Examples of these include fraternity and sorority houses, residence halls operated by third parties, the University Hospital, and off-campus leased space. It is particularly difficult for the University to track or control these emissions.

Emissions calculation tool used Clean Air-Cool Planet
Please describe why this tool was selected.

Estimated emissions were calculated using the Clean Air-Cool Planet® Campus Carbon Calculator v6.9 software utilizing annual facility data. The calculator was used for university data collection, storage and conversion into a common greenhouse gas emission unit, metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT eCO2). In the conversion process, the calculator uses scientifically-based factors for specific activities leading to GHG emissions (e.g., commuter miles traveled, tons of waste disposed, gallons of fuel burned, etc.). These conversion factors have been modified as more is learned about the global warming effects of various greenhouse gases.

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

The default emissions coefficients supplied in the Clean Air-Cool Planet® Campus Carbon Calculator were used in preparing this report. The version of the Carbon Calculator we employed uses a global warming potential (GWP) factor from the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). GWP is the ratio of the degree of warming to the atmosphere that would result from the emission of one unit of a given GHG compared to one unit of carbon dioxide over a specified time period. This is used to convert emissions of other GHGs into units of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).

Which version of IPCC's list of global warming potentials did you use? Fourth Assessment Report
Who primarily conducted this emissions inventory? Sustainability office staff
Please describe the process of conducting the inventory.

The university’s Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives served as the primary contact, author, and data compiler and analyst for this report. The data was gathered from across the university by collaborators with the university-wide Sustainability Council, in conjunction with the following units:
• Office of Institutional Research
• Office of the Vice President of Business Affairs,
• Department of Physical Plant Operations
• Department of Environmental Health and Safety,
• University Planning, Design and Construction.
• Office of the Vice President for Finance – Budget
• Office of Study Abroad and International Travel
• Contract Administration & Procurement Services
• Parking Administration
• Office of the Controller
Faculty and graduate students in the Department of Urban & Public Affairs took a lead role in developing the commuter survey and analyzing the data. Data was gathered primarily throughout the fall of 2013. Strategies for gathering the necessary data had been developed four years prior for UofL’s baseline emissions inventory.

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

In calculating our carbon footprint, the University used rough, upper-bound estimates to designate as de minimus (or materially insignificant) small emissions sources that collectively comprised less than 5% of the University’s total GHG emissions. Some emissions considered de minimus for this report include nitrous oxides used in the medical and research facilities, perflurocarbons used in eye surgeries and MRIs, and sulfur hexafluorides used in ultrasound imaging. While emissions from these sources were excluded from this inventory, the University recognizes the very real contribution to global warming that these emissions make. It is the intention of the University to continue to seek ways to minimize all GHG emissions, whether they are closely tracked and reported or not.

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

• Wastewater volume is not measured, nor is freshwater input as the water utility does not provide the University with annualized gallon data. In the future, gallons of water consumed by the University could be calculated based on average costs, but currently there is no central repository for the information and the University receives some 150 different water bills each month.
• The Athletics department has a separate budget from the University. Athletics was unable to report travel statistics so the associated emissions are not included here. We were also unable to include an accounting of emissions resulting from Athletics events, other than utilities consumed (as these are paid out of general funds).
• The University recognizes that its true carbon footprint includes emissions from facilities that it does not own (such as private residence halls and leased off-campus space); however it is difficult for the University to track or control these emissions.
• Air miles booked on behalf of the University but not using the University’s contracted travel agent could not be directly accounted for. Instead, the University estimated based on a historic average of 51% of University air trips booked through contract and prorated miles traveled for the additional 49%.
• While the University houses no farm animals, it is responsible for laboratory animals used in medical research. Fugitive emissions from these animals (e.g. releases of methane produced as part of normal digestive processes) could not be monitored.

Emissions Data

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

Scope 1 Emissions
Stationary Combustion 34,936.0 metric tons of CO2e
Mobile Combustion 829.0 metric tons of CO2e
Process Emissions 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Fugitive Emissions 15,061.0 metric tons of CO2e
Total Scope 1 emissions 50,826.0 metric tons of CO2e
Scope 2 Emissions
Purchased Electricity 85,211.0 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 85,211.0 metric tons of CO2e
Scope 3 Emissions
Commuting 32,751.0 metric tons of CO2e
Air Travel 14,280.0 metric tons of CO2e
Solid Waste 539.0 metric tons of CO2e
Paper Purchasing 515.0 metric tons of CO2e
Scope 2 Electricity Transportation & Distribution Losses 8,427.0 metric tons of CO2e
Total Scope 3 emissions 56,512.0 metric tons of CO2e
Biogenic Emissions
Biogenic Emissions from Stationary Combustion 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Biogenic Emissions from Mobile Combustion 0.0 metric tons of CO2e

Mitigation Data

Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets purchased 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
Offset verification program(s) No information provided
Description of offsets purchased (including vendor, project source, etc.)


Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
Total RECs purchased 0 kWh
Percent of total electricity consumption mitigated through the purchase of RECs 0.0 %
Emissions reductions due to the purchase of RECs 0.0 metric tons of CO2e
REC verification program(s) No information provided
Description of RECs purchased (including vendor, project source, etc.)


Sequestration and Carbon Storage
Sequestration due to land owned by the institution 626.0 metric tons of CO2e
Description of how sequestration was calculated

This is an estimate of the carbon sequestration resulting from the preservation of trees on Belknap campus and at UofL's mostly forested 200-acre Horner Conservation Property (also referred to as the Moore Observatory). We based this estimate on an average of 10 tons per hectare per year and 50 pounds per tree per year, found at

Carbon storage due to composting 101.0 metric tons of CO2e

Normalization and Contextual Data

Building Space
Gross square feet of building space 8,081,064.0 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) 18487.0
Residential Students 5224
Full-time Commuter Students 11739
Part-time Commuter Students 5330
Non-Credit Students 3
Full-time Faculty 1731
Part-time Faculty 585
Full-time Staff 4291
Part-time Staff 294
Other Contextual Data
Endowment Size 721100000
Heating Degree Days 4438
Cooling Degree Days 1645
Please describe any circumstances specific to your institution that provide context for understanding your greenhouse gas emissions this year.

Our efforts to implement our Climate Action Plan are clearly paying off. This report documents the clear progress the University of Louisville (UofL) is making in reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, even as we continue to grow in terms of physical size, campus population, and budgetary expenditures.

This reporting represents a significant step forward in the comprehensiveness and accuracy of data gathering for carbon accounting as the University continues to strive to improve data collection methods and to more accurately track emissions.

Newly captured data reflected in this report include: more accurate estimates of commuter trip distances; research building square footage; summer school student populations; electricity generated by on-campus solar systems; our first green power certificate; and emissions from refrigerants, synthetic fertilizer applications, and study abroad travel.

UofL's net emissions appear to have begun the downward trajectory that we seek, both in absolute terms and relative to growth in the size of the University. From 2006 to 2013, we estimate that emissions have dropped over 22% from 246,929 to 191,822 metric tons.

While this reduction is worthy of note and should be celebrated, it still does not represent a steep enough decline to achieve our goal of climate neutrality by 2050. We must continue to innovate and strive for even greater reductions in years to come.

Supporting Documentation

Completed inventory narrative University of Louisville Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory 2006 – 2013
Completed inventory calculator Download

Auditing and Verification

These emissions data have been audited, verified, or peer-reviewed.
Please briefly describe this verification, if any.

The emissions data was peer-reviewed by staff from the office of the Vice-President for Business Affairs and by the Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives.