GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY - UNCW

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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
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LETTER FROM THE CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
As North Carolina’s coastal university, the University of North Carolina Wilmington defines
itself by a strong connection to the environment through teaching, research and community
engagement. UNCW considers its surroundings more than a backdrop for the successes that
characterize the university. The environment is the main stage that much be preserved in order
to continue such great academics, research and service learning.
UNCW defines sustainability as individual efforts made by the community to ensure that the
beauty and benefits of today’s world – economically, environmentally and socially – will be
available for future generations to inherit. The university is committed to maintaining fiscal
responsibility and believes that its efforts in sustainability reflect that.
Consequently, sustainability involved awareness and understanding of the complex
interdependence between these social, economic and ecological systems. The choices we, as
Seahawks, make in our daily lives affect the intricate interconnections between these systems
both seen and unseen.
In recent years, the need to innovate and reduce the “talon-print” of our community, region
and state became apparent. The initial wave of change may have originated on a political level,
but as the movement has gained momentum, the tides have changed and the obligation to
sustainability has developed as an individual as well as institutional commitment.
As you will see in this report, UNCW has taken great strides in areas of energy conservation,
alternative transportation, recycling, as well as stewardship in natural areas. Much work
remains; however, through the hard work of the Sustainability Council and collaboration with
peers and partners, we will continues the process of improvement.
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Stan Harts
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This report was prepared by Good Company (www.goodcompany.com), a Eugene, OR based sustainability
research and consulting firm, and the Appalachian Energy Center (energy.appstate.edu), housed at
Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.
The primary authors of the report are: David Ponder and Aaron Toneys of Good Company and Jason Hoyle
and Joey Mosteller.
For additional information about UNC Wilmington’s sustainability efforts please contact Kat Polhman at
[email protected]
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OVERVIEW 7 STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT 7 KEY FINDINGS 9
GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY 11
OVERVIEW 11 BOUNDARIES AND METHODOLOGY 11 SCOPE 1 - DIRECT EMISSIONS 16 SCOPE 2 - PURCHASED ENERGY INDIRECT EMISSIONS 17 SCOPE 3 - OTHER INDIRECT EMISSIONS (ACUPCC) 18 SCOPE 3 - OTHER INDIRECT EMISSIONS (SUPPLY CHAIN) 19 GHG BENCHMARKING 20
GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS 25
OVERVIEW 25 BASELINE GHG EMISSIONS 25 THE INFLUENCE OF STATE AND NATIONAL POLICIES ON GHG EMISSIONS 27 MITIGATION STRATEGIES OVERVIEW 29 ADDITIONAL MITIGATION APPROACHES 31 APPLICABILITY TO UNC WILMINGTON 37
SUSTAINABILITY COMMON PRACTICE 38
APPENDIX A: GHG INVENTORY METHODOLOGY 43
APPENDIX B: GHG REDUCTIONS METHODOLOGY 50
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
E x e c u t i v e S u m m a r y
OVERVIEW
The Earth’s climate is changing and North Carolina already has seen the impacts. Scientists agree that
greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are the primary cause of these changes. The most significant source of GHG pollution
is carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels.
These change impact the North Carolina Coast in the form of rising sea levels and more frequent and extreme
heat waves. Rising sea levels make vital infrastructure more vulnerable to storm surges, flooding, saltwater
intrusion. More frequent and intense heat waves impact human health, increase demand for energy, and harm
ecological systems. To reverse this trend, we must reduce GHG pollution globally by at least 50% by 2050.
Meeting these emission reduction targets will require substantial shifts in how we consume energy—toward
more efficient transportation, manufacturing, buildings and appliances—and where that energy comes from—
toward safer, cleaner renewable energy sources like the wind and sun.
To do its part to meet this challenge, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington has a goal to achieve climate
neutrality. The University of North Carolina Sustainability Policy is the precedent for this goal. In addition to
achieving climate neutrality, this policy calls for the integration of sustainability principles throughout the
institution’s activities from planning, design and construction, operations and maintenance, transportation,
recycling and waste management, and purchasing.
We embrace this policy for several reasons. First, it is sound environmental stewardship. Second, it reflects our
commitment to address critical regional issues. Third, it helps us prepare students to engage in our global
community. Finally, reducing GHG emissions and other sustainability actions results in reduced consumption
and cost-savings.
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To start charting a way forward in meeting this commitment
we commissioned this report. The report consists of four
sections. The first section is an inventory of our GHG
emissions for fiscal years 2011 through 2014. The second
section is a projection of future GHG emissions and an
analysis of external and internal policies to reduce those
emissions. The third section reviews campus sustainability
best practices at our peer and sister institutions. The fourth
section is a sustainability action planning framework and a draft sustainability action plan.
GHG Inventory GHG Reduction
Report
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
Between FY 2011 and FY 2014, gross GHG emissions associated with the university’s operations were virtually
unchanged. The recent stability is attributable to declines in GHG emissions associated with some activities
countering increases in GHG emission from other activities. Specifically, GHG emissions associated with fossil
fuel combustion, the fugitive release of refrigerants and the purchase of electricity declined by 11%. Meanwhile,
GHG emissions associated with business travel, employee and student commute and purchased goods and
services increased by 16%.
While on its face a modest finding, the stability in emissions is notable because during this same period student
enrollment increased by 7% and building square footage increased by 8%.
GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION ANALYSIS
Despite the recent stability, the university’s GHG emissions are projected to grow over the next 35 years by 22%
as a result of as increased student enrollment and campus expansion, assuming the GHG intensity of electricity
and transportation do not change.
However, external policies such as of federal vehicle fuel economy standards, North Carolina’s Renewable
Portfolio Standard, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Rules would reduce
the GHG intensity of electricity and transportation over time. If fully implemented these policies could actually
result in slightly lower absolute GHG in 2050 than in 2014 even with substantial growth in campus population.
While these external policies would reduce future GHG emissions, they are not sufficient to achieve climate
neutrality. In order to meet this goal, the university will need to implement a number of internal policies and
programs. This report identifies continued implementation energy savings measures and increased diversions of
solid waste from the landfill as two of leading opportunities for on-campus GHG reductions. In combination with
the external policies discussed above, these strategies could reduce FY2050 GHG emissions by nearly 35% below
FY2014.
There are number of additional GHG reduction strategies the university could pursue to achieve complete
climate neutrality including switching to lower carbon transportation fuels, promoting alternative transportation,
switching to lower GHG intensity refrigerants, and developing renewable energy projects or purchasing
renewable energy certificates, and acquiring carbon offsets.
CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY BENCHMARKING
A central element common among all of the surveyed institutions is a clear mandate from the chief executive
articulating the rationale and goals for the program. Such policies demonstrate the commitment of the
university’s top leadership to integrate sustainability concerns into the institution’s strategic thinking and day-to-
day operations.
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A centralized, standalone campus sustainability office with dedicated full time staff is another common feature of
the sustainability programs at the peer and sister institutions examined for this study. These offices generally
play a coordinating role, tracking and facilitating the various sustainability initiatives being pursued on campus.
Most sustainability program funding supports staff salaries and other indirect costs. This funding typically
comes from a university’s general operating funds. Funding for program implementation comes from a variety
of sources including student activity fees, capital and operating budgets, and proceeds from cost reduction
measures.
The most common reporting framework for campus sustainability is the Association for the Advancement of
Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).
None of the twelve peer and sister institutions examined have completed and submitted self-evaluations under
the STARS framework. These institution perform better than the national average, with three achieving a “Gold”
ranking and four achieving a “Silver” ranking.
The chancellor’s or presidents at all twelve sister and peer institutions have also signed the American College &
University President’s Climate Commitment.
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
G r e e n h o u s e G a s I n v e n t o r y
OVERVIEW
The chart below (Figure 1) shows the trend in UNC Wilmington’s GHG emissions from fiscal year 2007 (FY2007,
June 2006 – July 2007) by emissions source.
Figure 1 UNC Wilmington Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source (FY2007-FY2014)
BOUNDARIES AND METHODOLOGY
This inventory follows the accounting framework and guidelines set forth in the GHG Protocol Corporate
Accounting and Reporting Standard (GHG Protocol). The GHG Protocol is the leading global standard for GHG
accounting frameworks and serves as the basis for numerous sector-specific standards including the GHG
0
10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
90,000
G re
e n
h o
Other indirect emissions (ACUPCC) Other indirect emissions (supply chain)
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reporting requirements of both the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
(AASHE) and the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).
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REPORTING BOUNDARIES
This inventory estimates the GHG emissions associated with UNC Wilmington’s facility operations and activities
located in the Wilmington, NC metropolitan area for fiscal years 2011 to 2014. The fiscal year runs from July 1 to
June 30. The inventory includes those facilities that UNC Wilmington exercises operational control over,
including the buildings and equipment at the University’s main campus and the Center for Marine Science.
GREENHOUSE GAS ACCOUNTING REPORTING SCOPES
The GHG Protocol distinguishes emissions sources among three different reporting “Scopes,” as represented in
Figure 1 below.
Scope 1—Direct Emissions
Direct GHG emissions that originate from equipment and facilities owned or operated by the reporting entity.
Typical activities that result in Scope 1 emissions include the stationary and mobile combustion of fossil fuels, and
the release of refrigerants, a source of halocarbons (HFCs and PFCs).
Courtesy: GHG Protocol
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Scope 2—Purchased Energy Indirect Emissions
Indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of energy in the form of electricity, steam, heating and
cooling.
Scope 3—Other Indirect Emissions
All other indirect GHG emissions resulting from the activities of the institution but that originate from sources
owned or controlled by another entity. Typical activities that result in Scope 3 emissions include business travel,
employee commute, embodied emissions in purchased goods and services, emissions from the disposal of solid
waste, and the commuting habits of institution employees.
The GHG Protocol only requires the reporting of Scopes 1 and 2 emissions sources, though many organizations
include Scope 3 emissions sources in their reporting in order to more fully understand, disclose and mitigate their
contribution to climate change. In fact, ACUPCC calls on universities to include certain Scope 3 emissions
sources—specifically business travel, solid waste disposal and employee and student commute.
Departure from ACUPCC Reporting Boundaries
In addition to meeting the minimum requirements of ACUPPCC and the GHG Protocol, UNC Wilmington has
chosen to also to report the embodied GHG emissions in purchased goods and services.
This report also deviates from ACUPCC GHG reporting guidelines by excluding the sequestration of carbon
dioxide in forestlands owned by the University. While forestlands play an important role in removing carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere, generally speaking these removals “offset” other sources of GHG emissions only if
there is some intervention to prevent either the removal trees or other biomass that would otherwise be removed
(e.g., placing a forest in a conservation easement) or to increase the number of trees or other biomass (e.g.,
reforest). Since UNC Wilmington does not actively manage the forestlands owned by the University to enhance
carbon sequestration, we do not give credit for additional sequestration.
UNIT OF ANALYSIS
The GHG Protocol requires for the accounting of seven types of GHGs—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4),
nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and
perfluorocarbons (PFCs). Each of these gasses traps heat in the atmosphere differently, with some far more potent
than others. For example CH4 traps 21 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2. In order to account for this
relative potency, the emission of any single GHG is presented in this report in terms of metric tonnes of carbon
dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) based on that GHG’s global warming potential (GWP), as defined in the in the U.S.
EPA Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting rule. While these GWPs do not represent the most up-to-date
scientific understanding, as reflected in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth assessment
Report, these values were chosen to provide consistency with past GHG inventories.
CONFORMITY WTH PREVIOUS GHG INVENTORIES
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
For reference, this report also includes emissions reported in UNC Wilmington’s November 2011 GHG Inventory
prepared by the Brendle Group, which covers the period FY2007 to FY2010. The boundaries of analysis and
methodological approach between that report and this one are largely the same, though there are some minor
differences that are described more fully described in Appendix A: GHG Inventory Methodology.
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SCOPE 1 - DIRECT EMISSIONS
In FY2014, UNC Wilmington’s direct emissions of GHGs associated with fossil fuel consumption, both stationary
and mobile, and the fugitive release of refrigerants, totaled 11,631 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
(tCO2e). This represents a 15% decrease compared to FY2007—primarily a result of a reduction in the fugitive
release of refrigerants.
STATIONARY COMBUSTION
This category includes emissions from the combustion of natural gas to meet the campus’s heating and cooling
requirements and non-mobile diesel fuel for emergency generators. The combustion of natural gas is UNC
Wilmington’s largest source of direct (Scope 1) emissions.
Notably, the emissions associated with natural gas combustion have remained relatively constant over the last
seven years. This is notable because during this same period the University’s enrollment increased by 15% and
gross building square footage increased by 36%. This stability is largely attributable to the energy efficiency and
conservation measure put in place under the 2011 Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC). The ESPC
measures results in annual savings of approximately 12,350 million British thermal units (MmBtu) of natural gas,
or about a 7% reduction compared to FY2011 levels.
FUGITIVE EMISISSIONS
The second largest source of direct (Scope 1) emissions from UNC Wilmington’s operations is the fugitive release
of refrigerants used in heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and fleet vehicle air conditioning
systems. As noted above, the overall reduction in total direct emissions between FY2007 and FY2014 is a result of
a reduction in the fugitive release of these emissions. UNC Wilmington reported no fugitive releases in FY2013
and FY2014. While it is not uncommon to see year-to-year variation in the refrigerant releases since equipment
maintenance cycle vary, it is unexpected to have no releases in a given year. Therefore the results for FY2013 and
FY2014 are more likely the result of data reporting errors than a real elimination of fugitive refrigerant releases.
MOBILE COMBUSTION
The smallest source of direct (Scope I) emissions from UNC Wilmington’s operations is from the combustion of
fossil fuels to power fleet vehicles and equipment. GHG emissions associated with mobile combustion declined
nearly 25% over the last seven years. It is unclear to what extant this change is a result of fleet “right sizing”
efforts (i.e., the replacement of larger, less fuel efficient vehicles with smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles better
suited to perform the needed functions), or changes in travel policies (e.g., the introduction of travel purchasing
cards in 2011) that may have shifted refueling to off-campus filling stations (purchases captured under
University-sponsored travel below).
DETAILED REPORTING OF DIRECT EMISSIONS BY SOURCE
The table below details the sources of direct emissions from FY2007-FY2014
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The GHG emissions associated with electricity consumption, including transmission and distribution line losses,
or purchased energy indirect emissions, totaled 29,2343 tCO2e in FY2014.
UNC Wilmington’s purchased energy indirect emissions have declined by 16% over the last seven years—again
this is notable given the University’s growth during this period. The decline in purchased energy indirect
emissions is attributable both to the 2011 ESPC energy efficiency and conservation measures, as well as a decline
in the GHG intensity of electricity purchased from Duke Energy. The ESPC measures result in an annual saving
of approximately 3,840 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, or about a 5% reduction compared to FY2011 level.
DETAILED REPORTING OF PURCHASED ENERGY INDIRECT EMISSIONS
The table below summarizes purchased energy indirect emissions from FY2007-FY2014.
FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 Trend
34,707 37,326 37,226 38,422 33,413 29,405 29,668 29,234
Purchased Electricity
Scope 2
9,185 8,648 7,380 6,910 8,945 8,308 8,850 9,936
FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 Trend
744 1,032 933 904 812 649 631 567
FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 Trend
3,701 2,009 1,870 1,943 1,807 1,466 - -
Stationary Combustion
Mobile Combustion
Scope 1
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SCOPE 3 - OTHER INDIRECT EMISSIONS (ACUPCC)
The GHG emissions associated with solid waste disposal, student and employee commute, and university-
sponsored travel totaled 18,602 tCO2e in FY2014. This represents a 92% increase compared to FY2007—primarily
a result of the difference in solid waste disposal methods, as described below. These emissions are denoted as
“Other indirect emissions (ACUPCC)” since they are required elements of the American Colleges and University
President Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) GHG reporting requirements
SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL
The GHG emissions associated with solid waste disposal increased substantially during the last seven years—
more than 2,700%. This change is not a result of major changes in the reported quantity of solid waste generated
on campus, which was virtually unchanged between FY2007 and FY2014, but the changes in final disposal
methods. From FY2007 to FY2010, solid waste from UNC Wilmington was disposed of at the New Hanover
County’s WASTEC incineration facility. After the WASTEC facility was closed in April 2011, the University
began disposing of its solid waste at the New Hanover County Landfill. The landfill does not capture fugitive
methane emissions, a potent GHG with 21 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide, which results from
the anaerobic decomposition of organic materials (e.g., paper goods, food scraps and landscape trimmings). It is
the difference between the GHG intensity of these different disposal methods that accounts for the change in
reported GHG emissions.
UNIVERSITY-SPONSORED AIR TRAVEL
In the performance of their job responsibilities, UNC Wilmington employees occasionally travel out of town for
conferences or to carry out research activities. Likewise, UNC Wilmington students occasionally travel out of
town in the pursuit of their research interests, academic and cultural exchanges, and for athletic competitions.
UNC Wilmington also brings guest lecturers, performing artists and others to campus to enrich campus life.
In FY2014, the GHG emissions associated with university-sponsored air travel totaled an estimated 2,087 tCO2e, a
31% increase compared to FY2007.
It should be noted that current data for this category was unavailable at the time of the writing of this report and
the results presented are therefore extrapolated from data collected for UNC Wilmington’s previous GHG
inventory. Additionally, in this report this category does not include air travel from student study abroad trips or
other ground transportation (e.g., rental cars, trains, etc.). The data available from the last report for these sources
was insufficient to make a forward projection.
Finally, there appear to be differences in the assumptions about the GHG intensity of air travel between the
current report and the previous report. For the sake of making meaningful year-to-year comparisons, this report
calculates the GHG emissions from university-sponsored air travel for all reporting periods using the same GHG
intensity factor.
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COMMUTE
In the course of their commute to and from campus, UNC Wilmington student and employees utilize a variety of
transportation modes including single occupancy vehicles, carpools, public transit, bicycling and walking. This
category includes emissions associated with personal vehicle use and Seahawk Shuttle routes sponsored by UNC
Wilmington.
UNC Wilmington’s emissions associated with employee and student commute and business travel have
remained stable over the last seven years. While the average annual emissions during the current inventory
period (FY2011-FY2014) show a modest drop in employee and student commute-related GHG emissions
compared to UNC Wilmington’s previous GHG inventory period (FY2007-FY2010), this change is a result of
differences in the methodological approaches used to estimate emissions. These difference are discussed in more
detail in Appendix A: GHG Inventory Methodology. Indeed, over the current reporting period, employee and
student commute-related emissions have increased slightly, which is a function of increases in total campus
population.
DETAILED REPORTING OF OTHER INDIRECT EMISSIONS (ACUPCC)
The table below details other indirect emissions required by ACUPPC’s reporting guideline from FY2007-FY2014.
SCOPE 3 - OTHER INDIRECT EMISSIONS (SUPPLY CHAIN)
In addition to reporting the indirect emissions sources required by ACUPCC, UNC Wilmington is now reporting
the GHG emissions embodied in purchased goods, services and construction materials. This often-overlooked
source of GHG emissions represents the upstream GHG emissions associated with raw material extraction,
production and manufacture, and transportation of goods and services.
While the UNC Wilmington does not have direct control over the production processes driving these emissions, it
does share in the responsibility of these emissions as the university relies on these goods and services to fulfill its
mission.
The embodied GHG emissions associated with UNC Wilmington’s purchase of goods, services and construction
materials totaled 11,950 tCO2e in FY2014. This represents a 35% increase compared to FY2011, the first year for
which estimates from this source are available, though there is considerable variation in year-to-year emissions,
FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 Trend
- - - - 7,799 14,941 25,353 11,950
Scope 3 (Supply Chain)
(tCO2e)
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
driven by fluctuations in construction spending (see Figure X below). For example, the increase in FY2012 and
FY2013 in construction-related emissions reflects the building of the MARBIONIC research facility.
DETAILED REPORTING OF OTHER INDIRECT EMISSIONS (SUPPLY CHAIN)
The table below details other indirect emissions, specifically those associated with the purchase of goods, services
and construction materials, from FY2011-FY2014 that are beyond ACUPPC’s reporting requirements.
GHG BENCHMARKING
This section discusses UNC Wilmington’s GHG emissions relative to changes in campus population and building
square footage over time and in comparison to select peer and sister institutions. Because UNC Wilmington is a
leader among its peers in reporting supply chain emissions that are not required by ACUPCC, this emissions
source is left out of the benchmarking analysis to allow for more consistent boundaries of comparison.
While campus-level comparisons of total emissions can provide some limited insight in changes in performance
over time and overall performance relative to other institutions, in the future UNC Wilmington should consider
reporting and tracking emissions intensities at a more granular level, such as for particular emissions sources or
for buildings of a particular type.
BUILDING AREA GHG EMISSIONS INTENSITY
Figure 3 (below) shows UNC Wilmington’s direct emissions (Scope 1) and purchased energy indirect emissions
(Scope 2) relative to changes in building square footage between FY2007 and FY2014. Other indirect emissions
(ACUPCC) (Scope 3) are excluded from this metric because they are not directly related to building management.
FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 Trend
- - - - 7,799 14,941 25,353 11,950
Scope 3 (Supply Chain)
(tCO2e)
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
Figure 3 Total GHGs versus GHG Intensity per 1,000 sq. ft.
As discussed above, it is notable that the tCO2e/1,000 sq. ft. has remained stable given the increase of xx sq. ft.. in
total campus square footage over this same period. A caveat to keep in mind is that this increase in square
footage includes a number of relatively low energy intense buildings such as a new parking deck and apartment-
style student housing. In the future, UNC Wilmington should consider reporting tCO2e/1,00 sq. ft. by building
type (e.g., student housing, laboratory, parking, warehouse, etc.) in order to better understand and track building
area emissions intensity.
Figure 4 below shows UNC Wilmington’s FY2014 building area emissions intensity compared to select peer and
sister institutions.
tC O
2 e
tC O
2 e
Total GHGs (Scopes 1 & 2) GHGs per 1,000 sq. ft.
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
Figure 4 UNC Wilmington GHG Intensity per 1,000 sq. ft. Compared to Peer and Sister Institutions
UNC Wilmington’s building area emissions intensity is similar to most of its sister and peer institutions. The
relatively high building area emissions intensity of the large research institutions is unsurprising. These
institutions have a different academic mission, which requires different types of facilities and equipment. These
institutions also frequently operate large central station energy plants used to supply energy to both the main
campus and affiliated institutions (e.g. a hospital).
CAMPUS POPULATION GHG EMISSIONS INTENSITY
Figure 5 (below) compares UNC Wilmington’s direct emissions (Scope 1), purchased energy indirect emissions
(Scope 2) and other indirect emissions (ACUPCC) relative to changes in student population (student full-time
equivalents plus faculty, staff and administrators) between FY2007 and FY2014. Emissions associated with
supply chain are omitted at this time because similar data for sister and peer institutions is largely unavailable.
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Figure 5 Total GHGs versus GHG Intensity per Student FTE
UNC Wilmington’s campus population emissions intensity is also similar to most of its sister and peer
institutions. As shown in Figure 6 below. Again the relatively high campus population emissions intensity of
large research institutions is attributable to fundamental differences in academic mission and the presence of
affiliated institutions.
M T
C O
2 e
M T
C O
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GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY
Figure 6 UNC Wilmington GHG Intensity per Student FTE Compared to Peer and Sister Institutions
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
G H G R e d u c t i o n A n a l y s i s
OVERVIEW
It is the official policy of the University of North Carolina System (UNC System) to become climate neutral as
soon as practicable and no later than 2050. Climate neutrality generally means that an organization has zero net
GHG emissions. To achieve zero net GHG emissions organizations reduce their own emissions to the extent
feasible and then purchase emission reductions from a third party to offset the balance.
This section provides a high-level overview of UNC Wilmington’s projected GHG emissions through 2050,
referred to as “baseline” emissions, projects the emissions impact of implementing selected GHG reduction
strategies, and highlights additional approaches that UNC Wilmington might put in place in order to progress
towards achievement of the carbon neutrality goal. Finally, this section concludes with a discussion of the
financial implications associated with the reduction strategies.
Importantly, this analysis should be considered as a high-level assessment rather than definitive plan for
achieving climate neutrality. UNC Wilmington’s Sustainability Action Plan and consideration of available
mitigation activities should be periodically revised and fine-tuned as additional information becomes available,
and as technology- and market-driven opportunities change over time. These periodic revisions to GHG
mitigation strategies could easily be incorporated into future planning studies (e.g., strategic energy plan, campus
transportation plan, solid waste management plans, etc.), since as the UNC System Sustainability Policy implies,
sustainability and GHG emissions do not stand alone but rather result as impacts from the policies and decisions
implemented in all departments across the campus.
BASELINE GHG EMISSIONS
Baseline GHG emissions are the emissions expected to occur without any mitigation activity, or in other words,
the level of future emissions if business continues as usual. While a detailed description of the methods and
assumptions to derive baseline emissions and other emissions projections can be found in Appendix B: GHG
Mitigation Analysis Methodology, the projected emissions baseline, in simple terms, relates all emissions sources
in the inventory to the primary driver of university activity – student enrollment – using the available historical
data on emissions and university activities.
Baseline emissions are however, only a starting point when considering the implementation of GHG mitigation
strategies necessary for UNC Wilmington to meet the General Administration’s stated goal of carbon neutrality
by FY2050. The UNC System sustainability policy does not specify what emissions sources should be evaluated to
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
determine success at achieving its carbon neutral goal. So, for the purpose of this analysis, it assumed that the
carbon neutral goal includes the same emissions sources included in the GHG inventory, with direct (Scope 1),
purchased-energy indirect (Scope 2), ACUPCC indirect (Scope 3) emissions sources, and indirect (Scope 3) supply
chain emissions.
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As shown in Figure 7 (below), baseline emissions are projected to rise to nearly 97,300 tCO2e by FY2050.
Juxtaposed to this projection is the target emissions level required for UNC Wilmington to become carbon neutral
by 2050. As indicated in the chart, baseline emissions are projected to increase by about 28.6% over FY2014 levels
by FY2050, an increase attributable to projected growth in student enrollment of nearly 80% over the period. So,
achieving the goal of carbon neutrality while continuing to grow at historical rates will require UNC Wilmington
to not only mitigate at the scale of current GHG emissions, but also to mitigate the expected 21,600 tCO2e of
emissions growth in the future.
Figure 7 - Historic and Baseline GHG Emissions Versus Target Emissions Level
THE INFLUENCE OF STATE AND NATIONAL POLICIES ON GHG EMISSIONS
Although the baseline projection indicates an expectation of substantial growth in GHG emissions, the burden of
reducing emissions may not fall on UNC Wilmington alone. Since common practice for GHG inventories is to
represent the GHG footprint of an organization by including not only emissions directly released by the
organization, but also indirect emissions, or emissions which are not produced by activities that UNC
Wilmington owns, manages or controls, the sources of these indirect emissions will also play a role in reducing
UNC Wilmington’s GHG footprint.
There are a number of policies, regulations, and plans that are either proposed or anticipated to come into force
with a reasonable degree of certainty that will impact UNC Wilmington’s GHG footprint. These policies and
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
regulations affect GHG emissions in practically all cases by reducing the emissions intensity of a source area. The
policies and regulations with the highest degree of certainty that we include in the policy-adjusted forecast of
UNC Wilmington’s emissions projection include accelerated improvement in vehicle fuel economy and reduced
carbon intensity of electricity generation.
Figure 8 shows the impact on UNC Wilmington’s baseline emissions if these expected policies are implemented.
Policies and regulations that reduce the carbon intensity of electricity generation, including Duke Energy’s post-
merger power generation strategy and compliance with EPA’s proposed GHG rules for existing power plants,
will reduce emissions attributable to purchased electricity by an estimated 49.6% by FY2050. Combined with
accelerated increases in vehicle fuel economy these policies result in a reduction of UNC Wilmington’s emissions
from the projected baseline level of 97,300 tCO2e in FY2050 to a policy-adjusted baseline of 67,500 tCO2e in FY2050
– a reduction of nearly 31%.
Perhaps most importantly for the implementation of mitigation strategies is that reductions in the GHG intensity
of activities like electricity use and transportation will have a long-term multiplier effect on other mitigation
activities UNC Wilmington implements. Accelerated improvements in passenger vehicle fuel economy standards
are estimated to increase fuel economy – and reduce GHG emissions – more rapidly in the next few decades than
would otherwise occur, resulting in emissions reductions below the baseline level of as much as 20.1% over the
next 20 years, and by about 12.9% below the baseline level in FY2050.
The carbon intensity of purchased electricity is expected to be reduced as a result of Duke Energy’s merger with
Progress Energy as the now-combined utility implements its revised generation resource plans and continues to
replace coal-fired generation with natural gas and nuclear over the next 10 to 15 years. Then, starting in 2030, the
impact of the EPA’s proposed GHG limits for existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act will
further lower the carbon intensity of purchased electricity until the emissions rate of purchased electricity reaches
about half its current level.
Figure 8 - Policy-Adjusted GHG Emissions
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
MITIGATION STRATEGIES OVERVIEW
The policy-adjusted baseline results in a projection of roughly 67,500 tCO2e annually in 2050. Further reductions
to meet the 2050 carbon neutrality goal must result from active mitigation of those remaining emissions. This
analysis evaluates the impact of two principal strategies that are already being considered by or implemented at
UNC Wilmington as a starting point to mitigate emissions: energy efficiency and solid waste management.
The potential of a given mitigation strategy to reduce overall GHGs is a function of that the strategy’s ability to
reduce GHG emissions per unit of activity, the amount of the activity, or some combination of both. For example,
consider indirect emissions associated with the disposal of solid waste. These emissions can be reduced by
diverting landfilled solid waste to a landfill that has equipment in place to capture and flare fugitive methane
emissions. Additionally, reducing the total volume of waste destined for the landfill will further reduce solid
waste-related emissions.
Figure 9 shows how the two selected mitigation strategies will further reduce emissions below the level of both
the baseline emissions and the policy-adjusted emissions. The implementation of these two selected strategies are
estimated to reduce UNC Wilmington’s FY2050 emissions to roughly 49,600 tCO2e, or about 49% below the
projected FY2050 baseline level and reduce FY2050 emissions 34.5% below FY2014 levels.
Figure 9 - Mitigation Strategies' Impact on Baseline Emissions
ENERGY SAVINGS PERFORMANCE CONTRACTING
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The energy efficiency strategy consists of the continued implementation of Energy Savings Performance
Contracts (ESPCs) through FY2050. The university’s first ESPC covered about 10% of the oldest buildings on
campus and achieved reductions of about 10 kWh of electricity use and 0.2 therms of heat load per gross square
foot covered under the ESPC. The ESPC mitigation strategy assumes similar scale and results from a series of
additional ESPCs, with a new ESPC implemented approximately every four years. ESPCs are a particularly
valuable tool because they 1) require no up-front investment by the university, 2) are carefully evaluated for
conservativeness and accuracy by outside engineering firms, and 3) can cover a broad range of energy saving
opportunities from central hot/cool water distribution to lighting and automated building controls.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES
The solid waste management mitigation strategy includes a few implementation steps. First, the mitigation
strategy assumes that UNC Wilmington begins disposing of landfilled waste at a facility where methane is
captured and flared. Second, diversion of solid waste increases dramatically, with the rate of recycling increasing
from the estimated current level of about 13% to 33% within the next decade, and the implementation of a
composting facility that will divert organic or biogenic solid waste up to about 5% of total solid waste generated
within the next 10 to 15 years. These waste diversion strategies yield GHG emissions reductions by avoiding
emissions associated with landfill disposal, but also by adding a positive emissions reduction benefit through
sequestering GHGs or reducing life-cycle materials emissions.
EMISSIONS IMPACT IN FY2050 OF POLICIES & MITIGATION STRATEGIES
The previously discussed policies and mitigation strategies only address some of the emissions sources included
in the GHG inventory. As shown in Figure 10 (below), fugitive emissions, air travel, and purchasing emissions
are unchanged from the baseline – not because they are insubstantial emissions sources, but rather because they
are emissions sources for which there are few if any direct approaches to mitigation; unsurprisingly, emissions
from these areas are also some of the most difficult to quantify and track.
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Figure 10 - Projected Emissions Impact in FY2050 by Source
The policies and mitigation strategies impact 77.4% of FY2014 emissions sources—solid waste, purchased
electricity, transmission and distribution losses, mobile combustion/commuting, and stationary combustion. The
largest reductions are associated with purchased electricity, followed by solid waste – two sources that together
accounted for more than half of all emissions in FY2014 – and two sources over which UNC Wilmington has the
most opportunity to influence.
The following sections describe some strategies through which UNC Wilmington could make additional progress
towards achieving the UNC General Administration’s goal of carbon neutrality by FY2050. The additional
strategies include options that address emissions from stationary combustion and purchased electricity via on-site
power generation, mobile combustion and commuting via transportation alternatives, waste management, and
offsetting emissions.
Energy Efficiency
Using energy more efficiently is an obvious starting point for mitigating energy-related GHG emissions,
particularly since many energy efficiency options save more money than they cost. The university’s Energy
Service Performance Contracts (ESPCs) included in the previous section’s mitigation scenarios is only one
example of how energy efficiency opportunities can be identified, implemented, and financed. ESPCs however,
are not the only option to increase energy efficiency.
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
The value of some energy efficiency options is not always in energy cost savings. Solid-state lighting like LEDs,
for example, are comparatively more expensive than other high-efficiency lighting alternatives, and the dramatic
reduction in electricity consumption alone is often insufficient to justify the additional cost. In the case of LEDs,
which have an operating life several times longer than that of other high-efficiency lighting options, the cost
savings associated with lower maintenance hours – particularly in difficult-to-access locations like streetlights –
can be larger than cost savings from reduced electricity consumption.
Other efficiency opportunities can be found in maintenance and regular equipment replacement. In North
Carolina, HB 1292 allows energy cost savings produced by investments in these types of efficiency opportunities
to be returned to the university – a portion of which is required to support additional energy efficiency
investments, but about 40% of which can be allocated by discretion.
Solar Power
Renewable energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, reduce GHG emissions by displacing
grid-purchased electricity with zero-carbon electricity. These technologies are increasingly cost-effective options
as electricity prices increase and technology costs decrease. North Carolina has become one of the leading solar
markets in the country, with the 3rd largest solar PV market in 2013 and ranking 4th in the country for total solar
capacity installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association1.
Indeed, the cost of installing solar PV in North Carolina has fallen by about 67% in the last five years, from about
$6/Watt to about $2/Watt for commercial-scale facilities with several hundred kW of nameplate generating
capacity. North Carolina’s market is boosted in part by high-value state income tax credits and the Renewable
Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, a policy that requires utilities to source a minimum amount of
electricity from renewable energy and has a specific set-aside requirement for solar.
The solar resource in Wilmington is capable of producing about 1,275 kWhAC per year for every kWDC of installed
capacity, according to estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts2 software. Solar PV
can be installed on rooftops – helping shade buildings in addition to powering them, on open ground area, or
over parking lots and walkways. Although still a bit pricier than grid-purchased electricity, solar PV does offer
fixed prices over a long-term period, minimal maintenance due to few moving parts, and can not only reduce
peak kWh consumption but also reduce demand capacity. Based on FY2014 consumption, every kW of solar PV
installed would reduce annual GHG emissions by nearly 0.54 tCO2e.
Solar Thermal
The other solar energy technology gaining ground in the marketplace is solar thermal technology. Solar thermal
technology captures the sun’s energy and stores it in the form of hot water, allowing the user to reduce
consumption of heating energy. Solar thermal systems have always been more cost-effective than solar PV, but
until recently have been much less commoditized. Today, North Carolina is home to FLS Solar, an award-
1 See http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/north-carolina 2 See http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/download-results.php?type=monthly
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
winning company that has modernized the solar thermal business model by installing, owning and operating
solar thermal systems and then selling the hot water to large-scale customers on a dollars per mmBtu basis.
According to the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation3, a typical solar water heating system of about 100
square feet produces roughly 18 mmBtu per year, depending on local conditions and collector type. Solar thermal
technology could easily be integrated with UNC Wilmington’s boiler systems to pre-heat water and reduce
natural gas or other fuel consumption, and for buildings where electric water heating is used – particularly those
buildings with a daytime hot water load – rooftop solar thermal systems could be integrated to reduce electricity
consumption. UNC Wilmington paid an average of about $6.16/mmBtu for natural gas in FY13-14, so every 100
square feet of solar thermal collector installed could reduce UNC Wilmington’s natural gas bill by $111 at current
natural gas prices, while also acting as a hedge against future price increases, and reducing GHG emissions by
about 0.495 tCO2e per year.
Combined Heat & Power
A combined heat and power (CHP) system generates both electricity and useful heat, typically using some fossil
fuel like natural gas. These systems can be more than twice as efficient as an electricity generator alone since they
capture useful heat that would otherwise be lost. In a CHP system, steam first passes through a turbine to
generate electricity and is then sent for use in a heating or cooling system. The result is an overall reduction in
fuel use compared to providing the same amount of electricity and thermal energy from separate systems, and
therefore lower GHG emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a Spark Spread Estimator4 calculator tool for estimating the benefit of
installing a CHP system. Based on current fuel consumption and costs as well as current electricity consumption
and costs, and assuming a single CHP system could serve the entire campus, UNC Wilmington’s net savings
from a CHP system would be approximately $763,700 per year. This estimated CHP system would increase
natural gas consumption by about 87%, since natural gas would be used for electricity generation as well as
serving the thermal load, but in exchange the system would reduce electricity purchases by almost 34,600 MWh
per year. While CHP would increase UNC Wilmington’s direct emissions due to increased natural gas
combustion, the overall gains in energy efficiency from heating water and generating electricity with the same
fuel mean that net GHG emissions fall by 5,216 tCO2e per year.
TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
Increasing the use of lower-carbon alternative transportation fuels reduces GHG emissions by displacing the
consumption of conventional petroleum-derived transportation fuels. Conventional transportation fuels tend to
have higher GHG intensities than alternative fuels, especially when the full life-cycle impacts are considered.
3 See http://www.solar-rating.org/facts/Energy_Production.pdf 4 Available at http://www.epa.gov/chp/basic/economics.html
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
Transitioning UNC Wilmington’s current fleet of vehicles and Seahawk Shuttle to lower-carbon alternatives such
as compressed natural gas (CNG), biodiesel or electricity could provide significant life-cycle GHG reductions.
Recent prices, in dollars per gallon of gasoline-equivalent ($/GGE), reported by the Clean Cities Alternative Fuel
Price Report5 for January 2014, for alternative fuels are shown in Figure 11 (below). CNG use in heavy-duty
vehicles like shuttle buses is increasingly common and typically a significant source of reductions in both GHG
emissions and transportation costs. Also, electricity is an increasingly available option, and can be particularly
cost-effective when electric utility vehicles are used in place of gasoline-burning on-campus utility vehicles.
Figure 11 - Alternative Fuel Prices Per Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent
Commute alternatives
Increasing the use of commute alternatives reduces GHGs by decreasing the number of single-occupancy vehicles
commuting to campus and the associated combustion of transportation fuels. Alternative commute strategies,
many of which were identified in the Campus Master Plan, include enhancing walk-ability and bike-ability on
campus and in areas adjacent to campus, providing incentives to utilize alternative modes, increasing access to
transit options, and parking management. Other options include carpooling, ride-sharing, adjusted parking fees,
parking space/lot assignment priority, etc.
SUSTAINABLE WASTE MANAGEMENT
Commingled Single-Stream Recycling
Increasing the quantity of materials diverted from the landfill and recycled into newly manufactured products
reduces GHG emissions in two ways. First, the organic portion of those materials (paper, cardboard, etc.) no
5 Available at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/uploads/publication/alternative_fuel_price_report_january_2014.pdf
P ri c e p
e r
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longer decomposes anaerobically, thus avoiding the release of methane. Second, recycling those materials
displaces the production of virgin materials and the associated energy consumption and the related GHG
emissions.
UNC Wilmington currently collects and recycles a number of materials in a multi-stream recycling system, where
individual materials are collected in separate containers. These materials include cardboard, paper, metals, glass,
plastic, and electronic wastes. The estimated GHG reductions from implementing the recommendations in,
identified in the recent report commissioned by UNC Wilmington, Recycling Center Improvements Schematic
Design Report (Recycling Design Report), result from increasing the quantity of materials captured and recycled
and are included in the preceding section. There is a second recycling-based alternative not addressed in the
Recycling Design Report.
The second alternative is to switch to a commingled collection system, where all recyclables are collected in a
single container and transported together to a regional material recovery facility where they are sorted in an
automated process. Currently, there are single-stream material recovery facilities located in Jacksonville and
Fayetteville6. Although commingled recycling collection will reduce or possibly eliminate revenue to UNC
Wilmington from the sale of recyclables, it will save the university considerable cost in labor and equipment for
collection, and often can dramatically increase the rate of recycling which will reduce GHG emissions and also
reduce solid waste disposal costs.
Food and other organic waste diversion
Increasing the quantity of food and other organic waste, such as landscape trimmings, diverted from the landfill
reduces GHG emissions by avoiding the anaerobic decomposition of those materials in the landfill and thus the
release of methane.
There are a number of treatment options for organic materials, but their availability is dependent on the local and
regional solid waste infrastructure. One option discussed in the Recycling Design Report is anaerobic digestion,
the process by which microorganisms break down organic material in the absence of oxygen, producing methane-
rich gas called biogas and a sludge called digestate. The biogas can be captured and combusted to generate
electricity or heat, or cleaned and compressed for use as a transportation fuel. Likewise, the digestate can be
further processed into compost and used as a soil amendment.
In the right context, anaerobic digestion can be an effective strategy for managing organic wastes, however UNC
Wilmington likely does not generate sufficient quantities of material to support even a small scale anaerobic
digester. Developing an anaerobic digestion facility is capital-intensive and the cost-effectiveness of developing
such a facility would depend on partnerships with other public institutions (e.g., local government, primary
schools, hospitals, etc.) as well as private companies (e.g., food processors) that generate large quantities of food
and yard wastes.
waste digesters, commercial kitchen equipment that decomposes food waste by introducing heat, agitation,
6 See http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/mrf. The Jacksonville facility is operated by Sonoco Recycling, and the
Fayetteville facility is operated by Pratt Industries.
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
biological enzymes or some combination thereof in order to accelerate the rate of decomposition. This equipment
does not produce biogas but does produce a digestate that, depending on local circumstance, can be composted
or potentially discharged to a wastewater treatment facility. While the deployment of such equipment may result
in increased diversion from the landfill, it is unclear if these technologies result in a net reduction in GHG
emissions on a life-cycle basis.
At this time, the most viable strategy for UNC Wilmington appears to be diversion to a composting facility. UNC
Wilmington’s foodservice contractor, AARMARK, currently collects some food waste for processing at a regional
composting facility, and is actively considering an expansion of this program. With increased composting,
through the foodservice program and other efforts on campus, UNC Wilmington could avoid waste disposal
costs and use the compost to avoid landscaping expenses, as well as reduce GHG emissions several-fold over
landfill disposal.
Fugitive Emissions
The GHG inventory includes emissions from various types of high global warming potential (GWP) Freon, which
are used as refrigerants. While emissions attributable to this source represents only about 1,154 tCO2e per year on
average over the past four years, these gases have a 100-year GWP of about 1,800, or CO2e emissions of about 0.77
tCO2e per pound. The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed7 listing acceptable alternatives for
high GWP refrigerants, including those that UNC Wilmington currently uses. The alternatives include: ethane,
isobutane, propane, and R-441A.
The EPA proposal would not require substitution of these alternatives for high GWP Freon refrigerants, but
merely add these alternatives to the list of approved refrigerants and allow their use. Switching to these
alternatives once they are approved would virtually eliminate the 1,154 tCO2e per year attributable to refrigerant
use, since the alternatives all have a GWP of less than 10, or only about 0.5% that of Freon, resulting in a GHG
emissions reduction of about 95.5%.
Land- and forest-based carbon sequestration
There is no practical way to emit no carbon emissions whatsoever, regardless of how efficient an organization
may be. So, the portion of GHG emissions that simply can’t be avoided or mitigated must be offset in order to
achieve carbon neutrality. There are two general types of GHG offsets – the first type represent voluntary
reductions of GHG emissions from activities such as capturing and burning methane from a landfill when it isn’t
required, and the second type of offsets, which are the focus here, are from carbon sequestration activities.
Living plants, including forests full of growing trees, act as a carbon sink since carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere is captured and stored, or sequestered, in the trees as they grow. There are a variety of methods to
7 EPA Docket No. EPA–HQ–OAR–2013–0748; FRL-9906-56-OAR. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, prepublication
released June 26, 2014.
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GHG REDUCTION ANALYSIS
account for the amount of carbon sequestered in forests, some more controversial than others, but generally an
existing forest must be protected from development through a conversion easement or other designation of
preserve status in order to qualify, and new tree plantings must be permitted to grow for a minimum amount of
time in order for carbon offsets to be awarded without penalty. Many factors affect the amount of carbon
sequestered in a forest – size and age of trees, type of trees, density of trees, etc. – but a typical conversion factor8
would be a little more than 1 tCO2e per acre of preserved forest.
APPLICABILITY TO UNC WILMINGTON
Fundamentally, the university’s GHG footprint is largely a measure of how efficiently and productively the
university accomplishes its mission. As the mitigation chart demonstrates, even substantial reductions – reducing
GHG emissions from the baseline by 130% of current emissions – is insufficient to reduce projected future
emissions to the UNC System’s carbon neutral target of net zero emissions by FY2050. The projected growth in
campus population and square footage is the primary reason that such large reductions do not eliminate the
university’s GHG footprint in FY2050. For example, if campus square footage and population grow at 1% per
year on average, the emissions intensity would have to decrease by 2% per year to achieve a 1% reduction in
overall emissions.
The year 2050 is a long way into the future – far enough that it is difficult to predict emissions based on the future
of technology, its efficiency and its cost effectiveness. However, there are ample opportunities available to UNC
Wilmington today. Many of these have already been identified – fully interconnected centralized hot/cool water
piping, ESPCs, HB 1292 improvements, composting, recycling, student-led renewable energy funds, a walk-first
campus mentality, and more – and are available for consideration, but perhaps lack a centralized source of
organization or support to drive their development and implementation. Although implementation and ideas
readily flow from the bottom up, this missing link of leadership and institutional support is often provided only
from the top-down.
Funding is always a challenge and often the ultimate constraint on GHG mitigation measures. This challenge can
be managed in several ways at UNC Wilmington, including:
Enable student funded sustainability activities;
Incorporate campus sustainability into research and curriculum development efforts, including grant-
seeking; and,
Revise the manner in which HB 1292 savings are calculated; incorporating demand-based charges could
nearly double the savings returned in this budget line for just the HB 1292 activities proposed in the prior
year.
8 Appalachian State claims almost 1.24 tCO2e per acre for its on-campus forest conservation reserve
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SUSTAINABILITY COMMON PRACTICE
S u s t a i n a b i l i t y C o m m o n P r a c t i c e
OVERVIEW
This section reviews the campus sustainability programs of twelve sister and peer institutions, as identified by
UNC Wilmington staff, in order to provide context and understanding of standard practices as UNC Wilmington
develops its sustainability program. The findings are presented in two parts—the first part describes how
different institutions structure their sustainability programs while the second part identifies best practices for
university sustainability reporting.
Benchmark institutions utilize a campus sustainability committee in some form
The average salary for campus sustainability professionals in the Southeast in 2012 was about $55,000 per
year
Seven of the twelve benchmark institutions have a student activity “green” fee to support sustainability
initiatives
Appalachian State University provides a valuable case study of university sustainability practices
All 12 sister/peer institutions are ACUPCC signatories
Nine of the twelve peer institutions are STARS participants, with three achieving a Gold rating, four
achieving Silver, and two designated as reporters
SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM BEST PRACTICE
There are multiple ways in which universities choose to structure a sustainability office or sustainability efforts.
This section describes how the twelve benchmark institutions structure and organize their sustainability
programs. It includes a review of common features such as staffing levels and qualifications, administrative
structure, organizational placement, budgets and funding sources.
CAMPUS SUSTAINBILITY POLICY
A central element common among all of the surveyed institutions is a clear mandate from the chief executive
articulating the rationale and goals for the program. Such policies demonstrate the commitment of the
university’s top leadership to integrate sustainability concerns into the institution’s strategic thinking and day-to-
day operations.
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These campus sustainability policies typically include a description of the institution’s motivation, a vision
statement that describes what the campus aspires to achieve, a commitment to consider life-cycle environmental,
social, and financial impacts in decision-making, and establishes goals and priorities for action. These policies also
often designate a Chief Sustainability Officer or “policy owner “charged with oversight and implementation of
the policy.
planning, tracking, facilitating and integrating sustainability activities on campus. While the central focus of these
offices tends to be on facilities and operations, the scope of their responsibility also includes student affairs,
especially in relation to outreach, engagement, and academics, primarily in the form of highlighting existing
programs and research initiatives.
Despite their cross-departmental functions, these offices tend to be housed administratively in a “Facilities”
department with direct reporting to an Associate Vice Chancellor or equivalent. Notably, several of the surveyed
intuitions house the sustainability office one-level up in a “Business Affairs” department with direct reporting to
a Vice Chancellor or equivalent.
DEDICATED STAFFING
Eleven of the twelve benchmark institutions employ dedicated full time staff responsible for the coordination and
implementation of their campus sustainability program. In fact, most offices have more than one FTE, with a
typical office staffed by a full-time “Director” or “Coordinator” supported by additional full- or part-time support
staff.
The role of “Director” or “Coordinator” is generally charged with executing the mission of the sustainability
office, that is planning, tracking, facilitating and integrating sustainability activities on campus. The distinction in
title between “Director” and “Coordinator” is typically a function of qualifications and related experience. A
“Director” is more likely to have an advanced degree and significant related work experience (10 or more years).
A “Coordinator” is also likely to have obtained an advanced degree, though a number have a Bachelor-level
degree, and will have at least some related professional experience (3-10 years).
Support staff typically provides assistance in campus outreach, education and communication. These individuals
tend to have lower levels of educational attainment, though it is not uncommon for these individuals to also
possess an advanced degree, and typically have less than 5 years of related professional experience.
Interestingly, a number of institutions have incorporated staff members that are typically housed in other
departments into the sustainability office to support certain sustainability activities (e.g., recycling staff, energy
managers and alternative transportation program coordinators).
In addition to permanent employees, most sustainability offices also employ paid graduate assistants or
undergraduate interns. The use of unpaid graduate and undergraduate interns is also quite common.
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SUSTAINABILITY COMMON PRACTICE
The table below summarizes the job title, organizational position and staffing levels of the 12 benchmark
institutions. It should be noted that estimates of FTEs was difficult to ascertain and there were often discrepancies
in the reported number of FTEs within a given institution.
SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE
Another common feature is a campus sustainability committee, with all 12 benchmark universities having some
version. These committees tend to serve as the primary hub of campus sustainability activities. The committees
are typically comprised of a diverse set of campus stakeholders including students, faculty, staff and
administrators. These committees are an important venue for stakeholders to identify areas of concern and
develop collaborative, cross-functional relationships to solve problems. These committees are also in important
venue for developing collegial relationships among stakeholders that may have divergent perspectives. The
committee venue gives each stakeholder the opportunity to not only express their perspective but also to listen
Institution Centralized
Full Time Employees
Sustainability
Sustainable Development
College of
Fayetteville State Yes Director of Sustainability Assoc. Vice Chancellor for
Facilities Management
Environmental
Sustainability Office
Office
Office
Facilities Management
Director
4
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increased understanding, higher
shared vision for action.
benchmark institutions disclose
public reporting and staff
of higher education sustainability
some broad conclusions about the
scale and sources of funding for
campus sustainability programs.
operating funds. This was
consistently reported by the
benchmark universities and is
national survey of higher education
sustainability professions conducted
other indirect costs, and not project
implementation. This is somewhat
surprising but not entirely
responsibility of campus
national leader campus sustainability. Appalachian is consistently
ranked in the top twenty of the nation’s greenest universities as
measured by the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools rating system.
Additionally Appalachian has a Gold-level rating from AASHE
STARS, achieving at the time the fourth-highest score recorded. This
success is in large part attributable to work of the university’s
sustainability office.
Sustainability Office
The Appalachian State University Office of Sustainability was created
in July 2009. Initially, the Office had one full-time employee (who
currently serves as Sustainability Director) and one full-time temporary
staff employee. Currently, six full-time permanent employees and a
number of temporary graduate assistants and student employees staff
the office. Funding for the office is supported by general operating
funds.
Chancellor for Business Affairs, providing monthly progress reports.
Recently, an informal reporting line was established between the
Sustainability Office and Office of the Provost and Executive Vice
Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The Sustainability Office also
prepares a presentation for the Chancellor’s Cabinet once per semester.
Sustainability Council
membership policy. After the creation of the Office of Sustainability,
the Sustainability Council was restructured to have the Sustainability
Director as Co-Chair with the other Co-Chair elected by faculty
members on the Council. The Co-Chair serves a two-year term and the
faculty members are appointed by the deans of each college.
Permanent positions are typically held by university staff members,
and at-large positions are reserved for community or university
representatives. The Council currently meets twice per semester, with
11 subcommittees meeting individually once per month.
Sustainability Fellow
Beginning in the Fall ’14 semester, a professor selected from the
Department of Management in Appalachian’s Walker College of
Business will work to promote academic sustainability programs,
broaden sustainability across the curriculum, and support research
initiatives as a sustainability fellow. This newly implemented, hybrid
position, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of
Sustainability, specifies a half-time teaching schedule and half-time
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SUSTAINABILITY COMMON PRACTICE
budgets of other departments and external grants or sponsorships. As discussed below, an increasingly important
source of implementation funding is student activity fees specifically designated to support sustainability-related
projects. These so-called “green fees” are discussed in greater detail below.
Third, while annual budget amounts were unavailable, AASHE does conduct a bi-annual salary survey that
allows for some inferences about the scale sustainability office budgets. The average salary for campus
sustainability professionals in the Southeast in 2012 was about $55,000 per year. Assuming an additional 30% for
fringe benefits and an additional 30% for indirect costs, it is reasonable to assume a cost of about ~$88,000 per
FTE. At two FTE’s this translates to a base budget of about $175,000 per year. It is safe to assume that in addition
to staff and overhead there are other expenses such an office might incur such as printing, stipends, travel,
consulting services, etc., leading one to reasonably expect a total budget for a two-person office on the order of
$200,000 to $250,000 per year.
Student Green Fees
As mentioned above, student activity fees are an increasingly important source of funding for campus
sustainability programs. Seven of the 12 benchmark institutions have a student activity fee to support initiatives
such as renewable energy projects, energy efficiency projects, and sustainability education. The fees among the
benchmark institutions range from $1.50 per semester up to $10 per semester and generate between
approximately $60,000 and $290,000 annually.
These green fee funds are typically administered by either a committee consisting of students, faculty, and
administrators or a student-led committee. Regardless of the committee makeup, deference is typically given to
student funding priorities with other members playing a more advisory role.
SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING BEST PRACTICE
ACUPCC GHG REPORTING
The American College & University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPPCC) is an initiative enlisting
colleges and universities to address global climate change via programs geared towards eliminating greenhouse
gas emissions from specified operations, while promoting a mission of climate research and education.
It is notable that all of sister and peer institutions examined have become signatories of the ACUPCC and
submitted at least one GHG inventory. The frequency of reporting varies considerably, though have submitted
periodic updates to their GHG emissions inventories. ACUPCC stipulates that member universities submit a
GHG inventory once every two years. Most peers submit GHG reports every two to three years, with four having
submitted reports on an annual basis. Two peers are listed as being past due for their current GHG report. Only
Elizabeth City State has submitted a single GHG report, with the remaining 11 institutions having submitted
between two and eight reports each.
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ACUPCC “TANGIBLE ACTIONS”
Upon becoming a signatory, each institution must also pledge to initiate two or more “tangible actions” to reduce
GHG emissions as a measure of good faith until the institution develops a comprehensive action plan, which is
required within two years of signing. The table below summarizes the seven actions institutions can initiate as a
commitment of good faith.
The number actions pledged among the benchmark institutions ranged from two to five. UNC Greensboro and
Western Washington chose the minimum of two. Appalachian State chose five. Fayetteville State and NC State
chose three. The remaining institutions chose four.
Among the 12 surveyed institutions the most common actions chosen were to adopt LEED silver building
standards and to provide access to and encourage the utilization of public transportation to the university
community, both of which were selected by 11 of the 12 benchmark institutions. This was followed by adopting
an Energy Star appliance purchasing policy, which was chosen by 10 of the 12 benchmark institutions.
None of the benchmark institutions pledged to review their investment policies for alignment with sustainability
principles - an interesting point since divestiture initiatives by universities have historically played an important
role in advancing environmental and social justice causes (e.g., fair labor conditions for university-branded
apparel).
Descriptions of ACUPCC Tangible Actions
Establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council's
LEED Silver standard or equivalent.
Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products
in all areas for which such ratings exist.
Establish a policy of offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel paid for by our institution.
Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our
institution.
Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution's
electricity consumption from renewable sources.
Establish a policy or a committee that supports climate and sustainability shareholder proposals at companies
where our institution's endowment is invested.
Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or
more associated measures to reduce waste.
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STARS OVERVIEW
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking,
Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is an assessment tool that examines sustainability in the areas of education
and research, operations, and planning administration, and engagement. It is the leading sustainability
performance measurement standard for colleges and universities.
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SUSTAINABILITY COMMON PRACTICE
The primary strength of the AASHE STARS framework is its comprehensiveness. The framework prompts
participating institutions to examine a wide range of sustainability related topics. This breadth is particularly
helpful for less mature sustainability programs for two reasons. First, it tends to raise issues the campus
community may not yet have considered. Second, it fosters cross-departmental collaboration.
One shortcoming of the framework is that it does not direct the organization to consider the materiality—that is,
the relative importance and significance of the issue to internal and external stakeholders—of the issues the
framework brings forward. In this regard the framework does not offer a reporting institution any guidance on
prioritizing the work of its sustainability program. Indeed, if accepted just on its face, the framework may lead an
organization to pursue costly initiatives that have relatively little impact.
HOW STARS SCORES ARE CALCULATED
Participating institutions self-report data on their performance related to education and research, operations, and
planning administration, and engagement. Based on the criteria for a given credit, the institution accrues points.
To generate the total score, the four major STARS categories are averaged to arrive at a number out of a
maximum of 208. For analysis in this report, the total number of points available was considered. In this context,
there are 208 points available in the entire framework distributed among the various categories. Based on the total
number of points accrued, a reporting institution is awarded a rating of platinum (a minimum of 85 of 208
points), gold (minimum of 65 of 208 points), silver (minimum of 45 of 208 points), or bronze (minimum of 25 of
208 points).
PEER & SISTER INSTITUTION AASHE STARS PARTICIAPTION
As noted in the table below, all of the surveyed institutions are AASHE members. Membership in AASHE offers
university representatives access to a community of likeminded professionals with whom they can share
sustainability ideas and information but does not required STARS reporting. Nine of the 12 peer institutions have
completed and submitted self-evaluations under the STARS framework with three achieving STARS Gold, four
achieving Silver, and two designated as reporters.
PEER & SISTER INSTITUTION AASHE STARS PERFORMANCE
On average, the twelve sister and peer institutions included in this analysis scored better than the national
average of all participating institutions, achieving an average score of 184 compared to the national average of 147
(see chart below).
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STARS Platinum none
Interestingly, scores were higher both nationally and among UNC Wilmington’s sister and
peer institutions for the “Education & Research” and “Planning, Administration &
Engagement” categories than for the “Operations” as might be expected given the location
of sustainability offices with a facilities division.
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STARS INDIVIDUAL CREDIT RATINGS
While the summary of institutional scores by category offers a high-level view of performance, in order to
identify “best-practice” in campus sustainability activities we took a closer look at which credits peer and sister
institutions were consistently scoring maximum available points. The table below shows the 23 credits where
peer and sister institutions, on average, earned at least 85% of the available points.
Credit Average Percent of
Hazardous Waste Management 100%
Support Programs for Underrepresented Groups 100%
Affordability and Access Programs 100%
Sustainable Compensation 100%
Community Sustainability Partnerships 100%
Sustainability Course Identification 89%
Sustainability Research Identification 89%
Cleaning Products Purchasing 87%
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GHG INVENTORY METHODOLOGY
S u s t a i n a b i l i t y A c t i o n P l a n A p p e n d i x A : G H G I n v e n t o r y M e t h o