Sustainability

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

To track toward its greenhouse gas reduction goals, Brown needs access to reliable data.

About Brown's Inventory Methods

In FY20 the University partnered with The Climate Registry and overhauled its greenhouse inventory methodology to be in line with national and international standards and to ensure sound metrics will be available year after year. These new changes mean that Brown’s greenhouse gas numbers will be more comprehensive, reliable, timely and transparent. This modernized methodology offers many advantages:

  1. More than just campus utilities

    The new greenhouse gas methodology tracks a wide variety of University activities to more completely measure Brown’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 footprint. In addition to the historically reported campus building utilities, utilities consumed in all University real estate buildings*, as well as newly constructed and renovated buildings, will now be tracked and included. Beyond utilities, the new methodology also accounts for:

    • fuels consumed by Brown’s vehicle fleet;
    • diesel consumed in campus generators;
    • diesel consumed by grounds equipment (e.g., lawn mowers);
    • lab gases purchased by departments;
    • lab fuels purchased by departments;
    • refrigerants;
    • and liquid propane powering Facilities’ forklifts.
  2. More than just CO2

    Although carbon dioxide makes up more than 99% of Brown’s greenhouse gas totals, the new methodology tracks emissions from additional types of greenhouse gases. Gases tracked in the new inventory include:

    • carbon dioxide (CO2)
    • nitrous oxide (N2O)
    • methane (CH4)
    • carbon tetrafluoride (CF4)
    • sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
    • hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  3. Aligned with rigorous standards

    The new methodology follows the reporting process established by The Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization governed by U.S. states and Canadian provinces and territories. The Climate Registry offers a common framework that many North American organizations use to produce transparent and rigorous greenhouse gas inventories.

  4. Well documented

    Along with following the procedures and protocols put forth by The Climate Registry, Brown has taken the additional step of developing an Inventory Management Plan. This plan explains how to prepare Brown’s inventory. The Inventory Management Plan will help ensure consistency year over year and business continuity in the case of employee turnover.

  5. Better quality assurance

    To achieve full status through The Climate Registry, an independent third party will verify Brown’s greenhouse gas numbers each year. Verification offers additional assurance that the inventory is complete, accurate and transparent.

  6. Built with data science principles in mind

    Brown developed the latest methodology using modern data science programs and principles. Complex spreadsheets are notoriously difficult to interpret and maintain. Copying and pasting data creates opportunity for error and makes it difficult to track data back to its source. Brown’s inventory numbers will be generated by computer scripts written in the R statistical programming language. Programming the inventory reduces the opportunity for error, helps to expedite annual updates and provides a written series of commands that documents how raw data transforms into final numbers. The computer scripts used to generate Brown’s inventory will be available on GitHub.

* All Brown University real estate spaces are included in the inventory, except for those that are leased to external tenants.