Measuring & Reporting Dickinson's Emissions

Dickinson measures and reports its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually to Second Nature’s President’s Climate Leadership Commitments (formally the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Reporting System (STARS). We measure and report our GHG emissions in order to prioritize our Climate Action Plan projects and meet our Climate Neutral by 2020 commitment. As of 2020, we have achieved Carbon Neutrality at Dickinson, and excited to advance on next steps and planning for future reductions.

Dickinson categorizes greenhouse gas emissions into six major categories, Scopes 1, 2, and 3, gross emissions, offsets, and net emissions. Scope 1 emissions are those associated with activities the institution directly controls and manages (e.g., fuel consumption in the Central Energy Plant (CEP)), Scope 2 emissions are those associated with purchasing electricity from the grid, and Scope 3 emissions are those associated with College activities that produce emissions, but that the College does not directly control emissions reductions efforts (e.g., employee commuting and air travel). Gross emissions are the sum of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Offsets are reductions in emissions by others that are enabled by actions of the College, e.g., purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates. Offsets are subtracted from gross emissions to calculate our net emissions.

We are constantly working to improve our greenhouse gas accounting methods and have focused on estimating emissions from employee commuting and college travel more accurately. The new methodology are highlighted in the full report, and explain changes in past data summaries.

Dickinson College’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions were 15,241 MT eCO2 gross and 9,408 MT eCO2 net (Fig. 1). Dickinson’s 2019 gross and net emissions were 1614 MT eCOand 908 MT eCO2 less than 2018 gross and net emissions. Dickinson’s gross GHG emissions declined from the 2008 baseline level of 18,847 MTCO2E to 15,241 MTCO2E in 2019, a reduction of 3,606 MTCO2E or 19.1%. Purchases of Renewable Energy Credits and composting of food waste at the Dickinson Farm offset a portion of the college’s gross emissions and reduce net emissions of GHGs. Net emissions (gross emissions minus renewable energy credits and offsets) decreased from 14,893 MTCO2E in 2008 to 9,408 MTCO2E in 2019, a decline of 40.8%.

GHG summary figure 2019

Figure 1. Dickinson College greenhouse gas emissions summary 2008-2019.

Overall, our reductions in emissions have moved us toward our climate change commitment, which calls for a 25% reduction in gross emissions from our 2008 baseline by the year 2020. We have completed a variety of projects to meet our commitment, including replacing nearly all of the College’s lights with LEDs and the development of a 2.9 MW solar electricity facility that supply approximately 30% of Dickinson's electricity consumption beginning in 2019. We are also working to create Climate Action Plan 3 which will outline next steps and projects of the future.

The decrease in emissions occurred despite a 16.2 percent increase in Dickinson’s gross square feet of building space and a 6.3 percent increase in Dickinson’s population of students and employees over the 2008 – 2019 period. Countervailing the effects of these factors on GHG emissions are Climate Action Plan projects that increased energy efficiency, as reflected in a 10.5 percent decrease in energy use per square foot of building space; shifts in electricity generation in Dickinson’s market region that reduced carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity by over 30 percent; and improved efficiencies in commercial air travel that reduced emissions per passenger mile by 23.4 percent.  

For Dickinson’s 2019 gross emissions, Scope 2 accounted for the largest percentage, followed by Scope 1 then Scope 3 (Fig. 2). Dickinson’s 2019 Scope 2 emissions accounted for 5,841 MTeCO2, or 38% of gross emissions, Scope 1 emissions accounted for 5,105 MT eCO2, or 34% of gross emissions, and Scope 3 emissions accounted for 4,295 MT eCO2, or 28% of gross emissions.

GHG Comparison 2019

Figure 2. Dickinson College's greenhouse gas emissions by scope for 2008, 2018 and 2019.

More information is available by downloading Dickinson’s 2019 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, viewing our Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Campus Energy Use dashboard, or viewing our publically available reports from Second Nature and STARS.

Download the 2019 Dickinson Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report