Measuring & Reporting Dickinson's Emissions
Dickinson measures and reports its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). In 2011, our emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases were equivalent to 18,748 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MT CO2e). This works out to 10.0 MT CO2e per 1000 square feet of building space, or 7.8 MT CO2e per full-time student. Offsetting nearly 57% of these emissions are purchases of Renewable Energy Certificates that help finance wind-generated electricity and reduce emissions from the electric utility sector by 10,663 metric tons of CO2e. Subtracting this offset from our total GHG emissions yields net emissions of 8,085 metric tons of CO2e.
These figures compare favorably to the average of 4-year undergraduate colleges that report GHG emissions to the ACUPCC. But we have a lot of work ahead of us to meet our commitment to reach zero net emissions.
Our largest source of emissions is purchases of electricity. The electricity we purchase from our local utility is generated mostly by coal-fired power plants, which release carbon dioxide when the coal is burned. In 2011, we purchased 18 million kWh of electricity, which resulted in emissions equivalent to 10,668 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This represents 56.9% of our total GHG emissions. Our next largest sources of emissions are study abroad travel by students (17%), faculty and staff commuting (10%), and combustion of fossil energy in our central energy plant and other facilities to heat and cool buildings (7.4%). With this information we can better target our emission reduction efforts for 2020.