November 9, 2010
Queen’s fared well in its first-ever greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. The inventory measures the greenhouse gas emissions from facilities under Queen’s control during the 2008 fiscal year.
“Tracking the university’s greenhouse gas emissions is the first step toward setting reduction targets and developing strategies and activities to achieve those goals,” says Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Bob Silverman.
The GHG inventory is a major requirement of the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada. This made-in-Canada document, modeled on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, was drafted by six British Columbia universities and has been endorsed by the heads of 23 Canadian institutions. Principal Daniel Woolf signed the Canadian pledge in February 2010 reflecting the university’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Addressing the university’s carbon footprint is a key priority for the coming years,” says Principal Woolf. “As a university we must work together to be leaders in creating a more sustainable world for future generations.”
The university is better than average for all doctorate-granting universities on emissions per full-time equivalent students and emissions per 1,000 square feet of floor space when compared with the averages of institutions reporting greenhouse gas emissions under the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Queen’s also exceeds the performance of Master’s colleges and universities on the emissions per 1,000 square feet of floor space. There is no basis for comparison with other universities that signed the Canadian document since none had reported a 2008 inventory.
The greenhouse gas inventory is a key piece of the greenhouse gas reduction strategy currently being developed by the Queen’s Sustainability Advisory Committee (QSAC). QSAC is composed of some of Queen’s leading environmental and sustainability researchers, who are working with the university’s Sustainability Office to advance sustainability measures.
A QSAC working group is striving towards a reduction goal and several milestone targets. The inventory will be compiled on annual basis to help the university track progress on those objectives. The 2009 inventory is currently being completed and will be released later this year.
Greenhouse gas emissions refer to the six gases listed in the Kyoto Protocol—carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride—that scientists have determined have the greatest impact on climate change. The full report is posted on the Queen’s Sustainability Office website.