Greenhouse Gas Accounting

In 2007, Duke University signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and set the goal to become climate neutral by 2024. Annually, Duke collects data from various departments on campus to update its greenhouse gas inventory with data on energy use, commuting/air travel, and waste. As of July 2017, Duke has reduced on-campus emissions by 24% compared to its 2007 baseline.

What is Duke’s Emissions Impact?

As of July 2017, Duke University has reduced a total of 80,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e), which represents a 24% reduction since Duke’s 2007 baseline. These reductions have come from increases in on-campus building efficiencies, fuel switching from coal to natural gas for steam production, and a cleaner local electricity grid. In the future, Duke will continue to reduce emissions through the use of biogas for some on-campus heat production, switching from steam to hot water for campus heating, and providing additional sustainable transportation options to employees.

Graph of Duke's emissions from 2007 to 2017. There has been a 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2007.
Since the 2007 baseline, Duke University has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the University, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing by 24%. This is the equivalent of eliminating 8,665 homes’ worth of energy use or installing 20 wind turbines.

Which Emissions are Included?

Schools that signed onto the ACUPCC committed to track various on and off campus emissions such as emissions from fuel used for steam/electricity production, purchased electricity, and employee commuting. In May 2017, Duke expanded its climate neutrality commitment to include emissions from upstream natural gas production and transmission line losses for purchased electricity. Below is a diagram of what is included in Duke’s emission reduction goal.

Duke GHG greenhouse gas emissions

Aside from the emissions boundary, Duke also has a geographic boundary that determines where data are collected from. Duke includes emissions data that comes from the University-side of Duke, which includes the university-side of Duke, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing. Due to the differences between the university and the health system, the Duke University Health System is not included in the current geographic boundary.

Duke GHG greenhouse gas emissions geographic boundary

How are Duke’s Emissions Calculated?

At the beginning of the fiscal year, Duke collects data on fuel use, electricity purchases, air travel, and commuting from a variety of departments around campus. These data along with emission factors (or MTCO2e emissions per unit) are compiled in an internally-created spreadsheet. This spreadsheet calculates and summarizes data to estimate Duke’s Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. A copy of Duke’s calculator tool in available upon request.