Vanderbilt continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon footprint
(iStock Photo)

Report released on Campus Sustainability Day

Vanderbilt University has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions per square foot by 18 percent since 2005, and its overall emissions by 10 percent since 2008, according to a new report prepared by Vanderbilt’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Office.

The GHG emissions inventory illustrates Vanderbilt’s current carbon footprint and provides trending information over the past six years. GHG emissions per person, per student, per research dollar, per inpatient day and per ambulatory medical visit have all decreased since 2005.

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, especially this past year, and look forward to continuing improvement,” said Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for plant operations. The reduction “reflects a lot of hard work to improve the energy efficiency of our existing buildings—some that are very old—as well as new construction and renovation projects that have incorporated excellent energy efficiency.”

Vanderbilt emits GHGs primarily through building energy consumption, but also by the use of fuel in university-owned vehicles, commuting behaviors of the university community and the disposal of waste generated by Vanderbilt.

“[rquote]Most university greenhouse gas inventory reports do not include research and-or patient care activity, making Vanderbilt’s report more comprehensive than most, and also more comprehensive than what is now required by the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Judson Newbern, deputy vice chancellor for facilities and environmental affairs.[/rquote] Earlier this year, Vanderbilt received an “A” rating and was one of the top five universities recognized in an analysis of environmental and social sustainability transparency by Claremont McKenna College.

Quantifying GHG emissions over time allows the Vanderbilt community to better understand its impact on the environment and determine the most effective improvement strategies to implement in the future.  “Using this information, we can identify our most significant opportunities for improving our carbon footprint such as reducing electricity consumption and using mass transit, carpooling or vanpooling,” said Andrea George, director of SEMO.

The university’s first GHG inventory report was released in April 2009. All reports are available at the SustainVU website.

For suggestions on how to reduce Vanderbilt’s energy consumption, visit SustainVU’s ThinkOne website.

For more information about Vanderbilt’s sustainability program, visit SustainVU, become a fan of the SustainVU Facebook page, or contact SEMO at or (615) 322-9022.