Energy & Climate

Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 12:14:00 CST  — by: Nick Cookson

In January 2010, Vice-Chancellor John McCardell Jr. signed the Presidents Climate Leadership Commitment (Commitment) placing Sewanee in a rapidly expanding and progressive group of over 500 universities and colleges across the U.S. that are addressing the impacts of climate change and working towards carbon neutrality. The Commitment acknowledges higher education’s key role in shaping sustainable societies, that climate change is impacting communities, and that managing the risks associated with these changes will lead to opportunities and increased resilience. The Commitment also backs Sewanee’s Climate Action Plan to increase efficiencies across university operations, investigate renewable energy sources that are pertinent to the region, and to utilize a portion of the Domain for carbon sequestration. The outcome of this commitment is to be carbon neutral by 2030.‌  

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions represent the overall environmental impact of University operations (including academic buildings, residential halls, dining operations, university fleet, faculty/staff commuting, business travel, waste, and more). Measuring GHG emissions and setting aggressive reduction goals is not only beneficial for the environment, but also for fiscal responsibility (energy reductions = cost savings/avoidance) and expanding educational opportunities (a changing environment will require new and innovative ways of using science and communication to solve complex issues).  

Recently, the 2016 GHG emissions inventory was completed and suggests that Sewanee has reduced its operational emissions (buildings, fleet, etc) by 22 percent from the 2008 baseline year; however, the emissions related to employee commute, business travel and waste have increased rather dramatically.  This can be attributed to the continual growth that Sewanee has seen over the past eight years both with students and faculty/staff positions, and also to improvements in several calculation methods.  

Investigating renewable energy options that make sense in Sewanee’s geographical location, reducing employee commute mileage and increasing recycling efforts/decreasing waste are currently at the forefront of Sewanee’s efforts to meet the Presidents Climate Leadership Commitment.

Please visit to see more about Sewanee’s GHG emissions and view the Climate Action Plan.


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