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Measuring Northwestern’s Carbon Footprint

2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions

metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCDE)

  • Gross emissions*: 292,768
  • Net emissions**: 215,540

Emissions by Campus

  • Evanston: 204,382
  • Chicago: 88,386

*Includes Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions.

**Northwestern purchases renewable energy certificates (RECs) to address indirect GHG emissions associated with the University's purchased electricity

Gross Emissions by Scope

percentage of total emissions

  • Scope 1: 35%
  • Scope 2: 43%
  • Scope 3: 22%

Scope 1 Sources

  • Natural gas and oil used in buildings: 98%
  • Vehicle fleet: 2%
  • Refrigerants: <1%

Scope 2 Sources

  • Purchased electricity: 100%

Scope 3 Sources

  • Travel: 59%
  • Transmission losses: 26%
  • Commuting: 14%
  • Paper purchases, wastewater, solid waste: 1%

Purchased Electricity Fuel Sources

Fuels used to generate electricity purchased

  • Coal: 35%
  • Nuclear: 33%
  • Natural gas: 26%
  • Wind and hydro: 4%
  • Other: 3%

Year-Over-Year Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG Emissions (MTCDE)

2012

  • Gross emissions: 306,044
  • REC-attributed emission reductions: 58,570
  • Net emissions: 247,474

2013

  • Gross emissions: 304,881
  • REC-attributed emission reductions: 47,370
  • Net emissions: 257,512

2014

  • Gross emissions: 308,148
  • REC-attributed emission reductions: 61,146
  • Net emissions: 247,002

2015

  • Gross emissions: 305,743
  • REC-attributed emission reductions: 70,593
  • Net emissions: 235,150

2016

  • Gross emissions: 292,768
  • REC-attributed emission reductions: 77,227
  • Net emissions: 215,540

Achieving Net Zero GHG Emissions

Northwestern is committed to reducing its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 30% by 2030 (from a 2012 baseline) and achieving net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050.

  • 2012 - 213,292 MTCDE
  • 2016 - 174,344 MTCDE (18% reduction from 2012 baseline)

Strategies for Reducing Emissions

  • Avoidance: reduce energy use
  • Efficiency: use energy more efficiently
  • Intensity: switch to low-carbon energy sources
  • Offsets: Purchase RECs