Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reveals University’s Carbon Footprint

Published on: 2010/11/12 - in Science & Tech

In its first greenhouse gas inventory – a measure of the greenhouse gas emissions from facilities under the control of the University – Queen’s fared well, according to Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Bob Silverman.

“Tracking the university’s greenhouse gas emissions is the first step toward setting reduction targets and developing strategies and activities to achieve those goals,” he said.

The greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, a major requirement of the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada, is a Canada-initiated document based on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. It was drafted by six British Columbia universities and subsequently endorsed by the heads of 23 Canadian institutions, including Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf who signed the Canadian pledge in February 2010.

Principal Woolf said that addressing the university’s carbon footprint is an important priority for the future, adding “As a university we must work together to be leaders in creating a more sustainable world for future generations.”

Queen’s rated above average among all doctorate-granting universities on emissions per full-time equivalent students and emissions for every 1,000 square feet of floor space, in comparison to the average marks for institutions reporting greenhouse gas emissions under the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

The Kingston university exceeded the performance of Master’s colleges and universities on the emissions per 1,000 square feet of floor space, as well. No Canadian university signatories have reported their 2008 GHG inventory, so those comparisons cannot be made.

The greenhouse gas inventory is a key piece of the greenhouse gas reduction strategy currently being developed by the Queen’s Sustainability Advisory Committee (QSAC), which is developing the university’s GHG reduction strategy, consists of some of the institution’s leading environmental and sustainability researchers.

The QSAC team is working towards a a reduction goal with specific milestone targets to achieve. Their GHG inventory will be  compiled annually to track the university’s progress with those objectives, and will release the 2009 inventory later this year.

The six greenhouse gases listed in the Kyoto Protocol that scientists have determined have the greatest impact on climate change include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

Queen’s University’s full report is posted on the Sustainability Office website.

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Photo by Julep67