The ninth greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory was conducted for fiscal year 2021 (FY21), which began on July 1, 2020 and ended on June 30, 2021. Assembled by graduate assistants Gabriella Zuccolotto and Brianna Marks at the Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE), these findings were compared with those derived from the previous inventories to assess trends in Duquesne University’s GHG emissions. Furthermore, this inventory discusses options for reducing Duquesne’s carbon footprint in future years.
Duquesne University’s total GHG emissions were 41,562.40 MT eCO2 for FY21. After calculating the full-time student equivalent and the full-time faculty/staff equivalents, SIMAP was able to generate the emissions per weighted campus user (WCU). This resulted in a carbon footprint of 5.07 MT eCO2 per WCU in FY21. The largest contributor to Duquesne’s GHG emissions was on-campus stationary combustion, which includes the natural gas cogeneration plant and auxiliary boilers. During FY21, the cogeneration plant accounted for 63.65% of Duquesne University’s emissions. The second-largest contributor of GHG emissions during FY21 was student and employee commuting, which accounted for 19.72% of emissions, while purchased electricity (electricity not generated at the co-gen facility) accounted for 14.60% of emissions. However, emissions from purchased electricity do not count towards the reported total emissions, as they are offset entirely with renewable energy credits (RECs). Other emission sources, such as directly financed athletics and business travel, the university fleet, fertilizer, solid waste, wastewater and paper purchasing, contributed to total emissions, however these sources were comparatively insignificant.
Although Duquesne University began completing GHG inventories in 2006, assessing long-term trends in this data is difficult, as all fiscal years prior to 2018 utilized a different reporting methodology. However, the adoption of SIMAP as Duquesne’s primary emissions calculation tool and implementation of a detailed protocol for data collection has allowed for standardization of GHG emission calculations. Therefore, this report, as well as future reports, will focus on changes in emissions from FY18 to present.
This inventory found that, compared to FY20, FY21 GHG emissions increased by 3.93%. FY20 experienced a 16.55% decrease in total emissions when compared to FY19, coinciding with students leaving campus and cancellation of all university travel in March 2020 in compliance with lockdown measures. As students gradually returned to campus through FY21, campus activity increased but was not yet operating at full capacity. The unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted total reported emissions during FY20 and FY21, making it difficult to distinguish between GHG emissions variations from campus activity and emissions improvements purposefully made by the university. Despite these limitations to reporting, total emissions still appear to be decreasing when comparing pre-lockdown and post-lockdown emission values, with a 18.48% reduction observed between FY18 and FY21.
There are several measures Duquesne must take to ensure that future reductions continue to decrease. These steps could include (1) increasing the purchasing and use of renewable energy, (2) improving the energy and water efficiencies of campus facilities, (3) providing alternative transportation options for commuters and/or incentivizing them to utilize sustainable transportation, and (4) increasing composting or considering additional sinks/offsets that will help neutralize Scope 1 and Scope 3 GHG emissions.
Greenhouse gas inventory for Duquesne University.
Zuccolotto, G., & Marks, B. (2022). One Step at a Time: Duquesne University's Ninth Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/ghg-reports/1