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North Carolina State Releases First Greenhouse Gas Inventory

North Carolina State University has released its first greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory--about 14 months after initially signing onto the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. Compiling the GHG inventory is the first step in developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP), as laid out by the Climate Commitment. Signatories are given about nine months after their start date to submit their first greenhouse gas report, a deadline missed by the university, which committed on May 15, 2008.

The inventory, which measures emissions for 2008 on multiple campuses and satellite offices, serves as a benchmark against which future emission reduction efforts will be measured. The major sources of emissions include electricity (53 percent), natural gas (22.5 percent), commuting (12 percent), and refrigerants (6 percent).

Among peer institutions, the inventory found that North Carolina State's emissions were comparable with some of the environmentally conscious East Coast schools and are in line with current trends.

"This inaugural inventory provides a baseline for future actions to reduce our impact on the environment," said Jeff Hightower, director of utilities infrastructure. Hightower said that a proposed combined heat and power plant would help reduce GHG emissions--created by projected student enrollment growth and new buildings--by about 12 percent. Another project under consideration is a performance contract designed to install energy conservation measures in 13 buildings across the main campus.

The university will update the inventory every year and encourage activities to engage the campus community. North Carolina State expects to hold open-table sessions over the coming months to help drive campus involvement in developing strategic plans to reduce the university's climate impact a part of submitting a climate action plan. Under the terms of the Campus Commitment, that will be due May 15, 2010.

In September the university will release a podcast on its iTunes U site in which Hightower explains how the inventory was compiled.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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