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Duquesne University Continues to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Duquesne University’s second greenhouse gas emissions inventory, conducted by the Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, shows a decrease in the University’s carbon footprint, despite a physical growth in campus and an increase in the student body.

The report One Step at a Time: Duquesne’s Second Biennial Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory discovered that the University’s carbon footprint dropped to approximately 4.0 metric tons per student in 2008 from 4.6 metric tons per student in 2006.

Duquesne is the first university in western Pennsylvania and one of only a few in the state to have completed such an analysis. The University has played a leading role in moving other schools in the region to undertake similar studies and to direct the region as a whole toward environmental stewardship, noted Dr. Stanley Kabala, associate director of CERE and principal investigator of the graduate-level project.

The University’s carbon footprint, which is based upon all gases emitted, is substantially the smallest of all Atlantic 10 Conference schools completing similar surveys in the past two years.

A large share of the credit for the University’s relatively small footprint goes to its natural gas-fired cogeneration plant, which produces 80 percent of the University’s electricity, as well as heating and cooling of the campus, using highly efficient technology.  Altogether, electricity and heating contributed to 75 percent of the University’s carbon emissions, according to the report. Duquesne’s most significant recent reduction, according to Kabala, occurred because of its decision to buy Renewable Energy Credits for all electricity purchased from outside sources.

“Duquesne has achieved much in the area of energy conservation and there exist opportunities to achieve even more,” concluded the report, noting that because of a significant greening of the campus, continued improvements may be challenging to achieve.

One potential area for progress falls in the transportation/commuting aspect of campus life, which contributed to 23 percent of the University’s emissions total. Faculty, staff and student commutes account for approximately 10 percent of the carbon footprint, though an electronic rideshare board is accessible, public transportation is nearby and a car-sharing program is available for members of the Duquesne community.

“Potential reductions could come through driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, increasing carpooling, bicycling to campus or opting for mass transit more often,” Kabala said. “Raising awareness of these options could encourage their use and help to reduce Duquesne’s carbon footprint going forward.”

The report, which was funded in part by The Heinz Endowments, also suggested employing additional energy-efficiency approaches and producing renewable energy on campus.

To learn more about CERE, visit www.duq.edu/science and click on Environmental Science and Management.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.