GHG Emissions Report

Since FY05, PCC’s overall GHG emissions have increased by 4.4%, from 81,013 MT CO2e in FY05 to 84,011 MT CO2e in FY12.  It is important to put these numbers in context.  Emissions from PCC’s internal operations have decreased 15.8% since FY05.  This can be attributed to new boilers being installed on the Sylvania campus as well as retrofits being completed throughout the district.  With the dramatic increase in enrollment between FY05-FY12, this is truly remarkable.

As a comparison, Lane Community College with 14,958 FTE has totaled 92,604 CO2e as of FY10.  This breaks down to 6.19 CO2e per FTE, whereas PCC has 2.16 CO2e per FTE. With our most recent comprehensive GHG inventory, PCC is able to compare numbers all the way back to FY05.

PCC has been working to achieve a GHG emissions reduction goal of 10% below 2006 emissions by 2012.  In order to try to reach this goal, as well as others outlined in PCC’s Climate Action Plan, the PCC Sustainability Council (PSC) is editing and updating the Climate Action Plan.  The updated Climate Action Plan as well as an updated GHG inventory with FY11 and FY12 data will be presented at the October Board meeting.

GHG Inventory Boundary

In many GHG inventory protocols, emissions sources and activities are classified as either producing direct or indirect GHG emissions. Direct emissions are those that stem from sources owned or controlled by a particular organization. Indirect emissions occur because of the organization's actions, but the direct source of emissions is controlled by a separate entity.

To distinguish direct from indirect emissions sources, three "scopes" are defined for traditional GHG accounting and reporting purposes (WRI, The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, p. 25).

  • Scope 1 – Direct sources of GHG emissions that originate from equipment and facilities owned or operated by Portland Community College.
  • Scope 2 – Indirect GHG emissions from purchased electricity, heat or steam.
  • Scope 3 – All other indirect sources of GHG emissions that may result from the activities of Portland Community College (PCC) but occur from sources owned or controlled by another company or entity, such as: business air travel; embodied emissions in material goods purchased by PCC; emissions from landfilled solid waste; and the commuting habits of PCC employees.

Results Overview

Scope I Emissions

  • Within Scope I, the largest source of emissions comes from natural gas use. 
  • Natural gas is burned primarily for space and water heating within PCC buildings.  There are certain buildings that have been identified as major energy consumers for both natural gas and electricity (HT and CC buildings on the Sylvania campus).  However, Willow Creek center, Downtown Center and Newberg Center have been identified in the district as having the lowest rate of energy consumption.
  • Fleet emissions include the gasoline and diesel consumed by PCC-owned vehicles within the District.
  • Refrigerants are used in building air conditioning and refrigeration systems.  While the fugitive emissions from refrigerants comprise a small piece of PCC overall carbon footprint, one of the refrigerants (R-22, Freon) is being phased out of production in the United States (per the Montreal Protocol) due to its harmful impacts to the ozone layer.  Replacing systems that use this refrigerant should be an action item for PCC in the near future.

Scope II Emissions

  • Electricity emissions include all kilowatt-hours consumed in buildings and for park lighting. 
  • Electricity emissions are calculated using the utility-specific grid mix for those buildings served by Portland General Electric.  Utility-specific information was not available at this time for Pacific Power, so emissions from facilities being served by this facility were  calculated using the regional generation mix for the Northwest Power Pool as identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s eGRID, 2006. 
  • Emissions from Scope II are greater than all combined emission sources from Scope I.

Scopes I and II Combined Emissions

  • Many reporting protocols require organizations to report emissions from Scope I and II.  The figure below shows the four emissions sources that make up these two Scopes together.  In 2012, electricity was the biggest source of emissions accounting for more than 66% of Scope I and II combined emissions.  Natural gas comprises roughly 32% and fleet makes up roughly 2% of overall emissions, leaving refrigerants with less than 1%.

Scope III Emissions

  • Scope III emissions calculations are the least precise due to some data gaps and the number of assumptions and estimations.  Despite this imprecision, Scope III emissions results provide PCC a sense of scale of the importance of the emissions sources, in comparison with the other emissions categories.
  • Scope III emissions are not completely PCC’s responsibility, but should be considered shared among other groups.  Due to their significance, PCC’s share should not be dismissed. 
  • Air travel is a small part of PCC’s overall carbon footprint, but it has steadily increased with the increase in enrollment.
  • Solid waste emissions include the methane and other greenhouse gases released as waste decomposes at landfills associated with various haulers that serve PCC.
  • Employee and student commute includes the emissions associated with PCC employees and students traveling to and from the college.  This figure was estimated based on the transportation mode split established in the recently completed transportation survey of students completed by the Parking and Transportation department in partnership with the Westside Transportation Alliance as well as full-time and part-time student and employee figures, provided by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.
  • The largest category of emissions within any Scope is the embodied emissions within purchased goods and services, also known as Supply Chain.  Within Supply Chain, construction materials and professional services are the biggest source of emissions.
  • Emissions from Scope III are greater than all combined emissions sources from Scope I and II.

Scope III Emissions, broken down by source

  • Supply chain emissions are the largest source of emissions for this GHG inventory.  It should be noted, PCC is the first community college in the nation to bring our supply chain emissions to this level of detail.  Commute is the largest source of emissions, contributing over 47.8% to the overall Scope III sum.  Supply chain falls not far behind at 47.7% while business travel contributed over 2% and solid waste contributed less than 1%.

Summary of GHG Inventory Findings

This GHG inventory is the most comprehensive data PCC has collected to date of its greenhouse gas emissions.  With this information, PCC is able to make more informed decisions regarding its sustainability efforts.  Overall, PCC’s emissions since 2006 (PCC’s baseline year) have increased by 21%.  This can be attributed to an increase in square footage as well as an increase in enrollment. With this data, PCC now has the capability to restructure its sustainability committees and efforts around the largest areas where GHG reduction is needed.