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2013 Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Since Michael Hogan, UConn President at the time, signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitmen promising that the university would aim for carbon neutrality by 2050, a lot of progress has been made. Retro-commissioning and re-lamping projects on many large buildings have been completed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce immense energy savings. In addition the university also implemented an energy efficient fuel cell on the depot campus. With all these improvements, since 2011, UConn has reduced its primary CO2 emissions by 4,802 tons per year, which is roughly a 4% reduction.

Benchmarking our progress towards becoming a climate neutral university takes a very long time to complete because many departments and contacts must contribute their information. Once all this information was gathered, a slight increase in total emissions for 2013 was discovered. Although this statistic may throw UConn off a tiny bit on its path to climate neutrality, it can be learned from. Here are a few reasons for the 1% greenhouse gas increase:

Natural gas curtailment:

  • When the weather is especially cold and demand on the natural gas pipeline is high, UConn is forced to burn fuel oil instead of natural gas. On average, each day of natural gas curtailment results in 50,000 gallons of oil being consumed by the co-generation plant (an extra 500 tons eCO2 per day).
    • >180,000 gallons of extra oil were burned on four days in 2013 due to natural gas curtailment (while no oil was burned in 2012)
    • In January 2014, UConn was forced to curtail natural gas consumption for 10 days, resulting in >600,000 gallons of oil being burned

New Buildings:

  • New buildings and major additions have been added to the Storrs campus totaling nearly 400,000 square feet (Oak Hall, Laurel Hall, McMahon Dining Hall, Basketball Practice Facility, Bousfield and Storrs Hall additions) resulting in greater electricity consumption on campus

Refrigerants:

  • Emissions from the consumption of refrigerants have increased 7% each year since 2011

The sources of emissions in 2013 were primarily from on campus stationary sources. In fact, going back to 2001, there has never been a year where energy-related emissions did not contribute at least 75% of the total emissions until 2012. Stationary sources now account for 79% of emissions showing, rise from 73% last year. This is due to the increased energy demands from additional building space.
*It is important to note that composting on campus went from 1 tons in 2011 to 8 tons in 2013.This shows that composting initiatives are taking effect and we are reducing solid wastes which can contribute to some emissions.

UConn started to base-line total emissions tracking in 2007 in accordance with the ACUPCC.  Overall, emissions since 2011 have decreased. Between 2011 and 2013, total emissions have dropped by 4.2% (4802 MT eCO2)..
This decline has occurred even as the number of full-time students has increased by almost 4% over the past 4 years.  This has all occurred with an increase in building space due to the additions to Laurel Hall, Oak Hall, McMahon Dining Hall, the Basketball Practice Facility, Bousfield Hall, Storrs Hall among other buildings totaling around 400,000 square feet.

This decline in emissions contrary to growths in the student body and building space are positive indicators that UConn will continue to cut its climate footprint, even as it expands into a bigger and better institution in the years to come. With the Climate Action Plan leading the way, UConn can be seen as an innovator and leader in the realm of sustainability.

 

2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory

The University began conducting an inventory of all the greenhouse gas emissions from the Storrs campus in 2003. Incomplete inventories exist dating back to 1996 as well as an additional inventory for 1990. The inventories provide the University with concrete data for evaluating its progress towards a more sustainable campus. The ACUPCC, signed in 2008, has given the University the goal of becoming a climate neutral campus by 2050. UConn now has comprehensive and consistent greenhouse gas inventories dating back to 2007.

Here you can find some graphs and explanations of emission sources over the last few years.

In 2012, on campus stationary sources were primarily responsible for emissions. In fact, going back to 2001, there has never been a year where energy-related emissions did not contribute at least 75% of the total emissions until now. Stationary sources now account for 73% of emissions showing a drop in emissions. This indicates that decreasing the demand for electricity, steam, and chilled water on campus is a worthwhile strategy for reducing the amount of emissions generated each year.

*It is important to note that composting on campus went from 1 ton to 3 tons from 2011 to 2012. This shows that composting initiatives are taking effect and we are reducing solid wastes which can contribute to some emissions.

The University of Connecticut has gone to great lengths to make its buildings significantly more energy efficient over the last few years. There are numerous energy saving initiatives underway and even completed at UConn. One example is the adoption of a sustainable design and construction policy which requires major construction and renovation projects to meet at least LEED Silver certification. Other initiatives include the replacement of lighting fixtures and bulbs with more efficient technology, retro-commissioning to optimize temperature and lighting controls in a third of the campus building space, and encouragement of behavioral changes by students through programs like the annual EcoMadness energy and water competition. One of the most significant additions to UConn's energy efficiency is its cogeneration plant, which can harvest significantly more energy from its fuel than a similar conventional power plant.

This graph shows the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the Storrs campus from electricity production normalized by the number of full-time students attending the campus. The amount of emissions is measured as metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT eCO2), which includes various other greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and others. For reference, the average passenger car produces 5 MT eCO2 per year (EPA).

The co-generation plant began production in 2006. In that year, it was still being fine-tuned for efficiency and some electricity was still being purchased from the grid. Beginning in 2007, some per capita emission reductions were observed. More significant per capita emission reductions can be seen in 2009 and 2010, which followed the re-lamping initiative as well as the construction of the Burton-Schenkman facility, which is LEED Silver certified. In April, 2012, UConn commissioned a fuel cell power plant on its Depot Campus. This fuel cell should play a major role in supplying energy to the depot campus and reducing emissions from main campus.

Additional sources of emissions being accounted for include various transportation, travel, and commuting categories; agricultural categories such as fertilizer application and compost production; solid waste and wastewater production; and purchasing categories such as paper and refrigerants. The University also has a source of offsets in the form of its forests. The forests help sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; however these reductions are dwarfed by the amount of emissions produced by the Storrs campus.


In accordance with the ACUPCC, UConn started tracking baselines for total emissions in 2007. The initial methodology for tracking these emissions was based on a worst case scenario for emissions. That is to say that the emissions levels were reported based on the overall GHG capacity rather than what was actually being emitted. As of 2010, UConn was able to record actual emission levels more accurately which has allowed us to capture a better idea of reduction trends. Since the change, the university has seen a 1.6% drop in MT eCO2 per student. This decline has occurred even as the number of full-time students has increased by 4% over the past four years. The decline in emissions contrary to growth in the student body are positive indicators that UConn will continue to cut its climate footprint, even as it expands into a bigger and better institution in the years to come. With the Climate Action Plan leading the way, UConn can be seen as an innovator and leader in sustainability.

Click here to view the 2010 Greenhouse Gas Inventory.