MIT releases institutional greenhouse gas inventory

January 12, 2016

Data set a baseline for campus climate action

The MIT Office of Sustainability has published the results of the first comprehensive campus greenhouse gas inventory, giving the MIT community the opportunity to understand, study, and improve decision-making on the campus?s climate impact.

The published data include comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions for 2014 and 2015. Currently, the inventory measures the emissions from three categories on the Cambridge campus: energy use for buildings owned and leased for research, teaching, and administrative purposes, campus fleet vehicles, and fugitive gases, which are used for research and refrigeration.

Within the current boundaries of the inventory, the data reveal that MIT?s largest source of emissions, by far, is the energy associated with operating campus buildings, accounting for 98 percent of emissions in 2014 and 97 percent in 2015.

The inventory provides a baseline for the greenhouse gas goal announced in President L. Rafael Reif?s five-year Plan for Climate Action. That plan, announced on Oct. 21, 2015, calls for a reduction in campus greenhouse gas emissions of at least 32 percent by 2030, using 2014 as the baseline year because of the accuracy of the data. The information provided by the 2014 and 2015 inventories will help MIT measure its progress toward the goal and determine exactly which strategies will significantly reduce the campus?s carbon footprint over time.

Donald Holmes, director of maintenance and utilities, noted, ?Now that we have a more accurate inventory and greenhouse gas benchmark, we are better able to identify and prioritize energy savings and sustainability opportunities ? and to incorporate them into our campus infrastructure work over the next decade.?

With an accurate assessment of the quantity of greenhouse gases the Institute produces ? and from what sources ? MIT is now positioned to launch a climate action planning process in early 2016. The Office of Sustainability and Department of Facilities will jointly facilitate that process with contributions from students, faculty, and staff.

Read the full article on the MIT News site and learn more about the method behind the green house gas inventories.