Pitt GHG Inventory for Fiscal Year 2019

As Pitt actively works towards carbon neutrality by 2037, the University’s 5th greenhouse gas emissions inventory (for fiscal year 2019) indicates Pitt has already reduced GHG emissions by 21.2%. 

In line with the University of Pittsburgh’s February 2020 commitment to achieve carbon neutrality for the Pittsburgh campus by 2037, we’re excited to release the University’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory for Fiscal Year 2019.

As Pitt actively works toward cutting in half its 2008 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 on the way to carbon neutrality by 2037the FY19 inventory indicates Pitt has already reduced GHG emissions by 21.2%. 

Check out the GHG dashboard  and the  full FY19 GHG Inventory report online for details on how Pitt has tracked and reduced its GHG impact over time and to see how emissions resulting from the University’s direct and indirect activities are calculated in line with international protocols.

Key takeaways from the FY19 University of Pittsburgh GHG Inventory include:

  1. For FY19, 215,522 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents are associated with the University’s Pittsburgh campus, remaining 21.2% below the FY08 baseline, but rising 0.6% over FY17, largely due to Scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions including commuting & air travel).
  2. GHG emissions from purchased electricity remained the largest GHG source for Pitt in FY19, but overall emissions in this category dropped 30.1% compared to FY17 due to renewable University energy purchases and local electrical grid mix changes, along with ongoing building efficiency efforts. For the first time ever, Purchased Electricity’s contributions to Pitt’s GHG emissions profile dropped below 50% — to 34.2% of the total.
  3. Behind purchased electricity and combined purchased and on-site steam, the third-largest contributor to Pitt’s FY19 GHG emissions was from directly financed air travel, which increased 47% over FY17.  Relatedly, GHG emissions from study-abroad travel increased by roughly a factor of two due to reporting corrections along with an increase in air travel miles and the number of study-abroad destination countries.

Five University of Pittsburgh GHG Inventories have now been completed since the initial inventory (for fiscal years 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

In line with Pitt’s Carbon Commitment, Pitt GHG Inventories are being completed annually — and the FY20 GHG inventory process has already started.

The campuswide process is guided by Dr. Melissa Bilec as a graduate student project.  The FY19 Pitt GHG Inventory was completed by Jessica Vaden, a graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with data provided from offices and departments across the University.

The reports serve as a guideline for the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, its Carbon Commitment Committee (CCC), and any committees, groups or individuals working to reduce Pitt’s GHG emissions.

The FY19 GHG Inventory also is informing the first Pitt Climate Action Plan, which was kicked off by the CCC in September 2020 and is moving toward completion in early 2021.