Greenhouse gas emissions down 12 percent since 2008

Vanderbilt releases updated report to mark Campus Sustainability Day

(Vanderbilt University)
(Vanderbilt University)

Overall greenhouse gas emissions from Vanderbilt’s campus and medical center have decreased by 12 percent from an all-time high reached in 2008—and by 7 percent from 2005 to 2011—even though the institution has seen significant growth in square footage, staff, students and research dollars over the last four years, according to a new report compiled by the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office at Vanderbilt.

In recognition of Campus Sustainability Day, observed Oct. 24, Vanderbilt released an updated inventory of GHG emissions for calendar years 2005–2011. The inventory illustrates Vanderbilt’s current carbon footprint and provides trending information over the past seven years. The report is available in its entirety on the SustainVU website.

“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.  “Our GHG emissions per square foot have gone down 21 percent over the past seven years, which 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.”

GHG emissions per person, per student, per research dollar, per inpatient day and per ambulatory visit also have trended significantly in a positive direction since 2005.

“[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[/rquote], deputy vice chancellor for facilities and environmental affairs.

Vanderbilt emits GHGs primarily through its buildings’ energy consumption, but also by the use of fuel in university-owned vehicles; by commuting behaviors among the university’s faculty, staff and students; and by the disposal of waste generated at Vanderbilt.

The university released its first GHG inventory report in April 2009 for calendar years 2005–2007 and released annual updates in 2010 and 2011. The EPA required some universities, including Vanderbilt, to report GHG emissions for the first time in September 2011 for the 2010 calendar year. Quantifying GHG emissions over time allows the Vanderbilt community to better understand its own unique impact on the environment now and in the past and determine the most effective improvement strategies to implement going forward.

“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. “Suggestions on how individuals in the university community can take action to reduce Vanderbilt’s energy consumption can be found on our 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 322-9022.

Contact: SustainVU, (615) 322-9022