Carnegie Mellon University

Greenhouse Gas Inventories

A greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory measures the emissions that are released into the atmosphere as a result of university operations. This analysis provides the metric to understand and identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions and identify opportunities for reducing emissions. 

Carnegie Mellon conducts an annual GHG inventory. When reviewing annual emissions, they are compared to the baseline year, 2005, which was the first year CMU conducted a GHG inventory. 

Chart of annual GHG emissions

Emission sources are defined as direct and indirect. The GHG Protocol defines these and categorizes emissions into three categories:

  • Scope 1 includes direct emissions that are physically produced on campus (such as fleet fuel use or on-campus power production). These sources are “owned or directly controlled” by the institution.
  • Scope 2 includes indirect emissions associated with purchased utilities required for campus operation such as purchased electricity, heat, or steam.
  • Scope 3 includes induced emissions from sources that are not owned or controlled by the campus, but that are central to campus operations or activities (such as student and employee  commuting and university-paid air travel).

Carnegie Mellon has reduced Scope 1 & 2 emissions by more than 70% since 2005. This reduction can be attributed to increased building efficiency as seen in the commitment to build new buildings to meet LEED Gold and by acquiring RECs equal to the university’s electricity use. Scope 3 values fluctuate as we do not have consistent historical data or annual accounting for these details. 

 Sustainability at Carnegie Mellon: A Path Forward

The Fall 2018 EPP-SDS student project course identifies a course of action for campus sustainability.  Chapter 4 explores Sustainability in Transportation and collecting more accurate transportation data. 

Sustainability at Carnegie Mellon: A Path Forward [pdf]

It's Not Easy Being Green

The following is a summary of a study that was done by an Engineering and Public Policy class at Carnegie Mellon in 2008.  The goal of the study was to provide a coherent framework and set of tools to allow institutions to understand their environmental impacts in relation to their peers, to determine appropriate sustainability goals and targets, and to identify and implement cost-effective programs to achieve these goals.

This project was awarded the honorable mention prize at the AASHE 2008 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It's Not Easy Being Green: Assessments and Strategies for Sustainable Institutions [pdf]

From Carnegie Mellon to Kyoto: How Far Can We Go?

An Engineering and Public Policy Project Course from May 2001 evaluated the feasibility and cost of reducing carbon dioxide below 1990 levels as per the Kyoto Protocol.  See their final report below

From Carnegie Mellon to Kyoto: How Far Can We Go? [pdf]