Fiscal Year 2022 Update

Duke University’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past two years have lessened dramatically and were 43% lower in fiscal year 2022 than they were in 2007. Overall emission reductions have come  through a combination of the discontinuation of the use of coal on campus, increases in building and utility plant efficiency, and travel reduction. The major factor in this reduction over the past two years has been the increase in the number of employees working remotely along with the  very limited use of air travel for conferences and research.

As Duke nears its 2024 carbon neutrality commitment, it is estimated it will achieve net zero by reducing emissions on-campus a total of 75% compared to a 2007 baseline and will cover the remainder by investing in high-quality carbon offsets. Duke University expects to be the first school among its Ivy+ peers network to reach carbon neutrality and will serve as a leader for this network as other universities near their goals.

To see a fuller update on fiscal year 2022's emissions, please view this slide deck. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Boundary

Based on Duke’s signing of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the University  committed to set a carbon neutrality target for various emission-generating activities. The CAP identifies Duke University’s overall emissions in three distinct scopes (outlined in the figure below) to address the unique attributes and extent of each. Duke University generally follows GHG accounting guidance from the World Resources Institute.

graphic of Duke's greenhouse gas emissions boundary
Duke's greenhouse gas boundary includes emissions from the following activities: fuel used in campus steam and hot water plants, fuel used in Duke owned fleet vehicles, purchase electricity, business air travel, employee commuting, fugitive emissions from energy related activities, and landfilled waste.


Duke's Geographic Boundary

Similar to the emissions boundary outlined in the previous section, Duke University also had to define a geographic boundary for its GHG emissions accounting. Both the 2009 and 2019 Climate Action Plans identify targets for entities that the university directly owns and operates. This means that the CAP outlines emission reduction strategies for the University (re: academic portion of Duke University), the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and Duke’s Marine Lab. The Duke University Health System, leased assets, and Duke’s international campuses are not included in its geographic boundaries. 

It should be noted that the operational changes and future campus emission reduction measures may also result in a lower GHG footprint for DUHS facilities that are located contiguously with West Campus since the buildings are conditioned by the central plants that condition the rest of West Campus.

Duke's geographic boundary
Duke geographic boundary for greenhouse emissions includes the University, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and the Marine Lab. It excludes emissions generated from the Health System, leased assets, and Duke's international campuses.