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Posts Tagged ‘Campus Carbon Calculator’

By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the September, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerScope 3, or indirect emissions not covered by Scope 2, are a challenging set of categories to gather data for in greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, but are essential for campuses to fully account for their upstream and downstream climate footprint.  Greenhouse gas reporting for the ACUPCC requires signatories to submit two categories of Scope 3 emissions: regular daily commuting to and from campus by students, faculty, and staff and air travel paid for by or through the institution. The

ACUPCC encourages signatories to go beyond these requirements and submit additional indirect emissions categories. An analysis of ACUPCC GHG reports demonstrates that many signatories have chosen to report additional scope 3 emission categories.  Of the 93% of the signatories that have submitted at least one GHG report, 65% have included information on their solid waste emissions and 20.6% have elected to report custom scope 3 emissions.

Custom Scope 3 Sources for ACUPCC GHG Reporting

ACUPCC signatories had reported these custom Scope 3 sources in publicly submitted greenhouse gas inventories as of August 2012 (Data taken from rs.acupcc.org)

Taking a closer look at the GHG custom scope 3 sources, it becomes clear that institutions report on areas of both common concern and programmatic significance, with sources ranging from standard (paper procurement) to the highly specific (animal husbandry).  Over 180 unique scope 3 sources have been reported, but further analysis shows that the majority of these sources fall under four main categories: Travel, Paper, Water, and electricity Transmission & Distribution Losses.  An additional 12% of these custom sources can be categorized as “Other” with more specific accounting.

Transmission & distribution losses, or T&D losses, make up the largest reporting category, accounting for 36% of custom scope 3 sources.  Essentially, T&D accounts for the energy lost during electricity transmission, which is a known grid inefficiency.  According to US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, national, annual T&D losses average about 7% of the electricity that is transmitted in the United States, making T&D losses a logical first step for those concerned with fully accounting upstream indirect emissions.

The ACUPCC hosted a webinar Expanding Scope 3 Emissions Tracking and Reporting on September 5, 2012 in partnership with Clean-Air Cool Planet, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and the New College of Florida.  Panelists discussed the possibilities for campuses to expand their Scope 3 emissions sources in order to account for a fuller emissions baseline by using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s newly revised Scope 3 Reporting Standard as a framework for submitting additional custom scope 3 sources, such as T&D, which is considered an “upstream activity” or “investments,” from the college’s endowment, as a “downstream” activity.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s 15 Scope 3 Reporting Standard emissions categories

 The GHG Protocol has just ended a public comment period (July 2012) on an amendment that revises the Corporate, Scope 3 and Product Life Cycle Standards to require the reporting of all UNFCCC GHGs and the use of a more consistent set of Global Warming Potentials (GWP). The update does not affect ACUPCC Scope 3 required reporting, but signatories that are looking at their supply chain emissions should read up on the amendment.

For many of the custom sources reported outside of the ACUPCC requirements for scope 3, there is some question as to whether categories are being double-counted, or belong in a different component of the report.  (For those unfamiliar with the requirements of the ACUPCC reports, the Instructions for Submitting a Greenhouse Gas Report may be useful).  Additionally, some campuses may be choosing to segment scope 3 or other emissions categories for their own projects or accounting purposes, causing some inconsistencies in reporting.  For instance, Biogenic sources created by the combustion of biomass and biomass-based fuels may already accounted for as a Scope 1 source (stationary and/or mobile combustion) in the GHG report, and Study Abroad Air Travel is already included under Scope 3 Air Travel accounting.

ACUPCC Custom Scope 3 sources

Click for an expanded version of the custom scope 3 sources, by category, in ACUPCC public greenhouse gas reports

Categories involving emissions related to water (potable, waste, thermal), food procurement, and investment are of particular interest to campuses and student groups, but with few examples of successful and long-term accounting are currently present to act as leadership models.

For instance, a new study by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCI) and Tellus Institute, “Environmental, Social and Governance Investing by College and University Endowments in the United States: Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Relations,” found that college and university endowments’ environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investments are “less prevalent than often believed, particularly given their history as sustainable investing pioneers dating back to 1970s anti-apartheid campaigns.”  Watch a webinar on the report findings here, or read the press release.

In future GHG reports and the development of reporting for higher education, the role of scope 3 emissions may grow to include accounting for some of these areas in a more formal and ongoing manner as new resources and tools become available.  The streamlined reporting in Clean Air-Cool Planet’s soon to be released web-based Campus Carbon Calculator will be among these tools: look for a first release in Fall 2012.

Additionally, the GHG Protocol is working on the development of a reporting standard for assessing the impact of downstream endowment emissions, a tool which, when completed, could provide an essential new tool for students and campuses to assess the climate impact of their endowments.

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By Claire Roby, Carbon Accounting Manager, Clean Air-Cool Planet
(This article appears in the November, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

At the recent 2011 AASHE conference, Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) unveiled the next phase of the Campus Carbon Calculator™ evolution: we’ve partnered with Sightlines, LLC, to redevelop the Campus Carbon Calculator as a dynamic, web-based solution.  The goal: to streamline the transition from analysis to action with a simpler, more powerful tool.

History

Back in 2001, CA-CP partnered with the University of New Hampshire to develop a template for campus greenhouse gas tracking. That Excel-based template — better known as the Campus Carbon Calculator™ — has since become the most widely-used carbon management tool in higher education, evolving with user needs to become increasingly comprehensive while remaining transparent, customizable and free.

The decision to move from Excel to a web-based platform is based on a number of factors. The Calculator’s size and complexity long ago began stretching the limits of Excel. In addition, user needs continue to evolve: users are tracking an expanding list of metrics and reporting their performance to a widening variety of organizations. Users want to spend less time analyzing sustainability and greenhouse gas projects, and more time doing them. It is clear to CA-CP that a better solution is needed.

Development

Development of the new tool began long before the AASHE 2011 Conference. It started with insights from CA-CP’s decade of experience with the Calculator—the questions and suggestions received from countless workshops and trainings, and one-on-one interaction with thousands of users.  It continued with Sightlines contributions: perspective informed by 10 years of providing colleges and universities with qualified data, benchmarks, and insight into campus trends and best practices, as well as direct use of the Calculator to generate and benchmark annual inventories for over 55 institutions.  This past spring, the project team consulted with other leading organizations working on campus sustainability and contracted a user interface specialist to complete 20 hours of user testing.  The culmination of this research was unveiled at the AASHE conference, giving attendees a preview of what to expect from the improved tool. (more…)

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by Niles Barnes, Projects Coordinator, AASHE
(This article appears in the May, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCAs readers of The ACUPCC Implementer know all too well, signatories are required to report on their greenhouse gas emissions within a year of signing the ACUPCC, and then every other year thereafter. After the Climate Action Plan is submitted, the GHG reports alternate with bi-annual progress reports which provide the opportunity to compare actual results to the initial goals laid out. Many campuses find the task of doing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory fairly straightforward, and there are a number of resources available to assist them, including Clean Air – Cool Planet’s Campus Carbon Calculator, The Climate Registry, and hundreds of other campuses to look to for examples. The process itself typically results in a great final product and a valuable educational experience, particularly when students are involved. Usually, the only area that tends to cause heartburn and anguish is measuring those often elusive Scope 3 emissions sources.

Campuses participating in the ACUPCC are required to include emissions from Scopes 1 and 2 in their inventories as well as two types of Scope 3 emissions: air travel paid for by or through the institution and regular commuting to and from campus by faculty, staff and students – as laid out in the ACUPCC Implementation Guide, which references the current version of the WRI/WBCSD “GHG Protocol.” The GHG Protocol, developed by World Resources Institute (WRI) in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), is the most widely used international accounting tool for quantifying GHG emissions, and it provides the accounting framework for most GHG management programs and initiatives.

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by Jennifer Andrews, Director of Program Planning and Coordination, Clean Air-Cool Planet®
(This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCYou want to reduce the carbon footprint of campus dining—but first you need to have a better understanding of what that impact is, and what is driving it.  What’s worse: the ever-present macaroni and cheese, or the even-more-ubiquitous pizza?  Users of Clean Air-Cool Planet’s Campus Carbon Calculator™ have always known that “you have to measure to manage;” and since it’s potentially expensive, inconvenient, controversial, or even downright impractical to adopt every “green” option you can think of for food purchase, food service and waste management, it’s important to have solid information at hand to help your campus prioritize and make best use of its resources.

From presentation by Leana Houser Pitkevits at AASHE2008

To meet this need, CA-CP is getting ready to release its highly-anticipated new CHEFS tool.  The Charting Emissions from Food Services (CHEFS) calculator is different from the Campus Carbon Calculator™ in that it adopts a life-cycle rather than a strictly entity- level carbon accounting approach—but it is similar in that it aims to provide a standardized, quantitative tool for decision-makers working to find the most effective ways to lower campus carbon emissions.

In addition to comparing the relative impacts of recipes or shopping lists, CHEFS will help you understand how the GHG impact of your food purchasing compares to other aspects of your GHG inventory.  And if you want to be able to communicate additional quantitative information in your educational campaigns about food choices, trayless dining, or the sustainability efforts of your dining service management, CHEFS will enable you to do just that.

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