University of Michigan Sustainability Report: Normalized Emissions Drop 7%

by | Feb 5, 2013

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The University of Michigan’s normalized greenhouse gas emissions fell seven percent year-on-year, according to the college’s latest sustainability report.

From financial year 2011 to FY 2012 the metric fell from 257 to 232 kilograms of CO2e per person per million square feet.

The college’s absolute emissions fell six percent year-on-year, according to the report. In FY 2012 the university released 684,398 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, compared to 728,024 MTCO2e in FY 2011.

The results represent something of a reversal from performance between FY2010 and FY2011, when the college’s greenhouse emissions jumped 5.4 percent. UM’s yearly greenhouse emissions from FY 2006 to FY 2009 were lower than its emissions in FY2012.

The college says that while “extensive growth and new construction” challenged it on an overall reduction in emissions, its greenhouse gas emissions were mitigated by a range of actions including an expansion to its North Campus Chiller Plant. The expansion helped UM avoid electricity purchases that would have added more than 1,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The college also added four LEED-certified buildings; built wind, thermal and solar energy projects; and undertook energy conservation measures that mitigated another 1,000 metric tons per year.

The university’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 510,000 MTCO2e per year by 2025. This would represent a 25 percent reduction from 2006 levels.

The intensity of carbon emissions from UM’s vehicle fleet fell eight percent over the course of the year, from 1 kg of CO2e per trip in FY 2011 to 0.92 kg of CO2e per trip in FY 2012. The FY 2012 figure was the university’s lowest since tracking began in 2006. UM needs additional reductions of 11 percent to reach its goal of a 30 percent reduction in intensity by 2025 over 2006 levels.

The fleet now includes hybrid and biodiesel fuel buses, the college says.

The university’s absolute energy use jumped three percent year-on-year, from 7.17 trillion BTUs in FY2011 to 7.41 BTUs in FY2012. Over that time period the college’s normalized energy use stayed roughly the same.

In May last year, UM said that its then-new modular data center could save the school $600,000 a year in energy bills. The data center houses high-performance computing equipment in a compact space the size of several shipping containers. It also uses outdoor air instead of expensive, industrial air conditioners to cool equipment. The data center’s plans were announced in 2008, at which time savings estimates stood at $500,000 a year.

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