This report tracks the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, or carbon footprint, for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus for the fiscal years 2009 to 2022. It provides details concerning the trend of UNCG’s greenhouse gas emissions dating back to 2009, the year UNCG first conducted an inventory and the year the University considers to be its baseline by which the University measures its progress in becoming carbon neutral by 2050 – a goal stated in the University of North Carolina System’s Sustainability Policy
For FY22, UNCG’s carbon footprint was 66,203 MTeCO2 which is a 14% reduction from our baseline FY09 footprint of 77,046 MTeCO2. However, this represents a 2.5% increase from our FY21 footprint, which mirrors regional and global trends as industries and countries continue to rebound to pre-pandemic levels of production and activity. The United States’ greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3% during the 2022 calendar year compared to 2021, with extreme weather events putting stress on the utility grid as people consumed more energy in their homes and buildings – the sector that saw the largest increase.
The major contributors to the University’s rebound in emissions were increases in spending on directly financed air and ground travel (restrictions by the State were lifted in early FY21, but at that time people were still hesitant to travel and conferences remained mostly virtual); the need to replace refrigerants due to a leak at UNCG’s chiller plant; and students reported traveling a longer average distance for their commute to campus in combination with an increase in residential students and a return to in-person learning. Compared to FY21, emissions from student commuting increased by 3,110 MTeCO2, air travel increased by 860 MTeCO2, and refrigerants were responsible for 662 more tons. Despite the rebound, UNCG’s CO2 emissions are still on a downward trend compared to pre-pandemic levels, achieving a 7% decrease since 2019.
Furthermore, the university has achieved a 32% MTeCO2 reduction per 1000 gross square feet and a 14% MTeCO2 reduction per weighted campus compared to our 2009 baseline. UNCG also achieved a 24% reduction in total energy consumption per square foot, which is a 3% improvement compared to FY21. More key statistics, data, and infographics are provided in the appendices of the report. More information regarding recent resource conservation projects on campus can be found in the 2022 Strategic Energy Plan reports. More information regarding the future integration of sustainability initiatives on campus can be found in the 2020 Campus Plan.
The full FY09-21 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report provides more details concerning next steps relating to the 22% increase in UNCG's Scope 1 emissions since 2009, the importance of more participation in the UNCG Commuter Survey, and the impact of weather on our carbon emissions.
The full FY09-18 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report provides more details concerning the calculation methods used in the Sustainability Indicator Management and Analysis Platfrom (SIMAP) developed by the Sustainablity Institute at the University of New Hampshire.
For more information about the Greenhouse Effect and the processes of Global Warming and Climate Change, please read UNCG's original Greenhouse Gas Inventory conducted for the fiscal year 2009.