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The UO uses the SIMAP accounting platform to track and estimate our annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SIMAP follows the GHG inventory protocol established by the World Resources Institute. After completing our annual GHG inventory, we convert the data into this custom-designed flowchart, known as a “Sankey diagram,” to show our fuel sources, energy-consuming activities, and overall emissions.

University of Oregon Energy Flow

Inputs (MMBTU)1 Activities (MMBTU)1 Emissions (MTCDE)2

1. MMBTU: Millions of British Thermal Units
2. MTCDE: Millions of Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent
3. All numbers are approximate due to slight variations in conversion factors used by various entities we rely on.
4. Although renewables such as hydro, wind, and solar do produce emissions in their production cycle, these emissions are insignificant and are not included.

Scope 1 emissions represent direct emissions from our campus, primarily natural gas burned at our power plant to make steam to heat campus. Scope 2 emissions are those we are tangentially responsible for through the purchase of electricity. Scope 3 emissions are ones we are indirectly responsible for, emissions that would not have been released if we did not exist as an entity. Scope 3 includes emissions from commuting and business travel.

As you can see, fuel sources matter. Hydropower produces most of the electricity we use to light classrooms, cool buildings, and power appliances. Its “carbon intensity” is very low and releases few emissions. Liquid fuels used for transportation release significant carbon emissions. See our Climate Action Plan to learn more about what UO is doing to reduce emissions, including looking into newly-developing, low carbon intensity technologies for heating and transportation.

GHG accounting practice is still evolving. The Office of Sustainability occasionally updates our estimates as data sources, carbon intensity factors, and estimation methods improve. We have started to estimate emissions from paper purchasing, waste, wastewater, and fertilizers, but do not include these minor emission sources in this fuel-focused infographic. We do not currently estimate the Scope 3 embodied emissions in most of the goods and services we purchase because the available methods are not yet well developed.

University of Oregon Electricity for Lighting, Plug Loads, and Cooling

Due to the dominance of hydropower in the local utility’s fuel mix, our local electricity is relatively inexpensive and has a low carbon emissions footprint. This explains why strategies to "electrify" heating and ground travel can be cost-effective and dramatically reduce emissions. The graphic below – provided by the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) – compares fuel sources used to generate local and state-wide electricity.

Source: EWEB, "Where Does Your Power Come From?" (11/29/2018).