Assessing carbon dioxide emissions from energy use at a university

William Riddell, Krishan Kumar Bhatia, Matthew Parisi, Jessica Foote, John Imperatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to assess the carbon dioxide emissions associated with electric, HVAC, and hot water use from a US university. Design/methodology/approach - First, the total on-campus electrical, natural gas and oil consumption for an entire year was assessed. For each category of energy use, the carbon associated with consumption of a single unit was calculated. Using this, the total carbon dioxide emissions for the entire university were estimated. Findings - It was found that the university's activities resulted in approximately 4 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per student per year. In total, the university emitted nearly 38,000 tons of carbon dioxide during the 2007 fiscal year. In addition, it was found that emissions from on-campus steam production, which account for roughly 57 per cent of total CO2 emissions, would be improved with the addition of two proposed cogeneration facilities. Originality/value - The originality and value of this paper is attributed to: the recent international concern over CO2 emissions and their global warming impact; the increasing adoption of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment which in part calls for an inventory of campus emissions; and the underdeveloped research area relating to total university campus carbon footprint estimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-278
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 10 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education


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