Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets
Within the United States, Washington State has become a leader in developing legislation and policies that seek to substantially reduce GHG emissions statewide. As a public institution, EWU falls under the jurisdiction of some of the guiding pieces of legislation that seek to address climate change (Table 1). To ensure compliance with state regulation and to join the commitment of carbon neutrality across all state agencies by 2050, EWU has aligned our carbon reduction targets with those set by the Washington State Legislature. On the pathway to carbon neutrality, EWU will reduce emissions below the following targets:
- 2030: 45% reduction of scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions below 2005 levels
- 2040: 70% reduction of scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions below 2005 levels
- 2050: 95% reduction of scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions below 2005 levels and support collective goal of net zero emissions across all state agencies
|Title||Code||EWU Required||Targeted Scope||Implementation Agency||Summary
|Clean Building Performance Standard||WAC 194-50-150||Yes||1 & 2||Dept. of Commerce||Increase building energy efficiency in all buildings greater than 20,000 square feet. Compliance dates depend on building size
|Limiting Greenhouse Gasses||RCW 70.235||Yes||1 & 2||Dept. of Commerce & Ecology||Reduce WA state agencies’ greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050
|Greenhouse gas reductions in design of public facilities||RCW 39.35.010||Yes||1 & 2||Dept. of Enterprise Services||New construction of public facilities must consider use of all-electric energy systems, alternative energy, and/or combined heat and power systems in building design
Washington State agencies use the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocols for defining and documenting categories of GHG emissions. Using this standard, GHG emissions are categorized based on emission source. Scope 1 GHG emissions are direct emissions from sources controlled or owned by an organization. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts in its value chain. By definition scope 3 emissions are another person/ organizations scope 1 or 2 emissions. Based on the definition of scope 3 emissions, and the challenges associated with measuring them, WA State agencies are currently only required to reduce scope 1 & 2 emissions. However, EWU seeks to reduce scope 3 emissions to zero by 2050 and will target the reduction of these emissions through education, outreach, and other case specific options.
EWU Greenhouse Emissions
At EWU the largest category of GHG emissions are scope 1 (Figure 1). The main source of scope 1 emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels to provide heating for campus buildings. The EWU Cheney campus is heated through a centralized steam distribution system. Natural gas is combusted in large boilers, creating steam that is transported through a network of tunnels that connect most buildings on campus to the central steam system. Boilers are in operation year-round, providing building heating as needed as well as heating the water that comes out of water taps across campus. These heating needs make up approximately 95 % of all scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis. The remaining 5 % percent of scope 1 emissions results from the consumption of gasoline and diesel in vehicles and landscape equipment used to maintain campus.
Scope 2 emissions (Figure 1) at EWU result from the use of electricity to provide campus cooling, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and plug load. Like the campus steam distribution system, building spaces are cooled during the warmer months through a centralized chilling system. HVAC systems distribute heating, cooling, and circulate air throughout campus buildings. Lighting, both interior and exterior, is extensive throughout campus. Plug load is comprised of any electrical power consuming equipment used on campus and ranges from small items like cell phone chargers to large laboratory analytical tools. The campus chillers are only operated during warmer months when building cooling is needed, whereas HVAC, lighting, and plug loads are responsible for year-round electricity use.
Scope 3 emissions, those being the most difficult to quantify, can vary widely depending on the choices of individuals and the following assessment is based on estimations. Primary sources for scope 3 emissions include commuting, university related travel, purchasing, and waste generation. Commuting by students and employees to and from campus is the largest source of scope 3 emissions. It is estimated to be about 70 % of all scope 3 emissions. The choice an individual makes to travel to and from campus can vary widely on an annual, monthly, or even daily, basis. Commuting can include options such as walking, biking, riding the bus, carpooling, or single occupancy vehicles. University related travel, such as attending a workshop or conference, also contributes to scope 3 emissions. Similar to commuting, individual choices regarding method of travel (i.e. airplane, train, car, etc.), and location of travel (i.e. local vs further afar) result in variation of greenhouse gas emissions. Purchasing of goods and materials can be central to university operations and these items contain their own embodied carbon footprints, contributing to scope 3 emissions. The decision-making processes during the production of these items is beyond the control of the university, however decisions on which items to purchase can play an important role in reducing EWU’s carbon footprint. Finally, a substantial amount of waste is generated at EWU on an annual basis, and how this waste is disposed of will have greenhouse gas emissions that fall into the scope 3 category. The type/amount of waste, and how it is disposed of (incinerated, recycled, composted, etc.) will have different associated carbon footprints.
Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions for EWU are available back to 2005, the baseline year set by RCW 70.235 (Table 1). These combined emissions continued to rise, hitting a peak in 2012 at 21% above 2005 emissions. Since 2012 these emissions have followed a gradual decline and in 2021 were 3% above 2005 levels. This decrease is largely driven by the reduction of scope 2 emissions from campus operations (i.e. the reduction of electricity use). In 2021 Scope 1 emissions were 21% above 2005 emissions, while scope 2 emissions were 18% lower than 2005 emissions. This significant reduction in electricity use highlights the development and implementation of new energy efficient technologies, such as LED lighting and variable feed drive chillers, as well as other strategies that seek to reduce GHG emissions.