Greenhouse Gas Inventory Announced by Cornell

As part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Cornell University has calculated its first greenhouse gas inventory. This news from the inventory indicates that Cornell will be on course to reduce central utilities emissions by almost one-third – far exceeding the university’s goal of being 7 percent below 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 2012. The university is expected to meet that goal by 2010, two years ahead of schedule.

The official inventory for Cornell campus emissions in Ithaca will be submitted to the ACUPCC to be put online for public view today at http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org. Placing the inventory in the public domain will also kick off the university’s preparation of its Cornell Climate Action Plan, which sets Cornell’s timeframe for achieving zero carbon emissions. That plan will be submitted to the ACUPCC by Sept. 15, 2009.

The contents of the four-part inventory, as defined by the ACUPCC, includes on-site combustion-related gases, purchased electricity, commuting and institution-funded air travel.

Additionally, Cornell is a founding reporter on the national Climate Registry, a national repository for greenhouse gas inventories for large companies, universities and municipalities.

“If Cornell – a very large research university – had not invested in energy efficiency efforts – such as Lake Source Cooling, the Combined Heat and Power Plant, and building-efficiency measures – then our carbon footprint would be much higher,” said Dean Koyanagi, Cornell’s sustainability coordinator.

Cornell is a charter signatory to the ACUPCC agreement, signed by President David A. Skorton in June 2007. As part of that agreement, more than 400 institutions are expected to put their greenhouse gas inventories online beginning today.

Cornell has invested in many programs and energy-efficiency structures to bring about carbon emission reduction. The university’s Lake Source Cooling initiative – which uses the waters of nearby Cayuga Lake – reduces needed energy for air conditioning on the Ithaca campus by 85 percent and eliminated chillers that used ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons. The Cornell Hydro-Electric Plant – built in the early 1880s and the only plant of its type at any college – supplies 2 percent of the university’s electrical needs from nearby Fall Creek. Its Combined Heat and Power Plant – due to go online in 2009 – will employ gas-turbine technology to efficiently turn natural gas into electricity, ultimately providing 80 percent of the campus’ electric power.

In 2007, Cornell’s Board of Trustees voted to require all building projects on campus that exceed $5 million to meet Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Cornell’s Alice H. Cook House residence hall, which opened in 2004, was the first LEED certified green residence hall in New York state.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has made a matching grant – through its FlexTech program – to Cornell of $425,000 to hire Affiliated Engineers Inc. to help develop the Cornell Climate Action Plan.

The State University of New York system and other institutions also have been mandated to make significant reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions and those schools will be able to use tools developed by the Cornell Climate Action Plan.

The carbon inventory and other information on Cornell’s sustainability efforts, is available at: http://www.sustainablecampus.cornell.edu.

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