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.
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.