Electricity

Background

In order to see where Puget Sound stands in comparison to other schools, the amount of CO2 emissions had to be established from information available to us. To create an energy profile for Puget Sound we spoke with the heads of Facilities Services to get the total kWh used during the last two school years (2005-06 and 2006-07). Using these totals and emission coefficients from the US Department of Energy, we found the total metric tons of CO2 equivalence emitted by Puget Sound electricity usage. To get an idea of how Puget Sound compares we found similar data from a number of peer institutions that included Oberlin, Lewis and Clark, Carleton and Tufts. These numbers are from different years and calculated at the schools discretion and therefore are purely estimates on our part. In addition all of these institutions are from different climates and have differing sources for their electricity.

  Energy Sources 
Puget Sound purchases its power from Tacoma Power. The breakdown of the sources comprising Tacoma Power's energy is:

  • Hydroelectric 89%
  • Nuclear 8%
  • Coal 2%
  • Natural Gas 1%
  • Other <1%

Because the majority of our power is provided by hydroelectric and nuclear sources, sources that do not emit carbon, our actual carbon emissions are lower than reported here. We used an average coefficient for Washington State energy to determine these numbers, as opposed to breaking down the sources. The other schools' emissions reported are also not exact, simply because they do not include a breakdown of the sources of their electricity, and therefore do not take into account how emission free sources versus coal or natural gas will effect their emissions. Exactly how their numbers were determined is unknown, so to find exact numbers would take more research.

Of the schools compared, Lewis and Clark is the most similar to Puget Sound's climate, and their head of facilities told us they get their power from Portland General Electric and get a varying amount of power from hydroelectric with a maximum at 55 percent and everything else coming from natural gas. The school has also started purchasing 30 percent of their energy from a wind farm. Therefore, their number is also lower in actuality than reported.

The different sizes and locations of the campuses also affect their total amount of CO2e emissions. Therefore, knowing the tons CO2e per student and per building is helpful in determining where we stand in comparison to other schools. The following table and graphs outline this information.

 Puget Sound Energy Success Stories
Energy Task Force
A subgroup of the Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC), this group is composed of members of facilities services, faculty, staff, and students. The goals of the group are to promote and facilitate responsible and sustainable energy use on campus. This is the group that is the most invested in doing the work to see that Puget Sound lives up to its commitment to the Presidents Climate Commitment.

Purchasing Green Power
When Harned Hall was designed to LEED silver standards in 2006, part of the qualifications as a LEED building was that the university was purchasing a small amount of green power for the building. Although there are many that would like to see the university move to 100 percent green power purchasing, this is a step in the right direction and therefore is a great success story!

Metering Buildings
Facilities Services has begun the process of metering the energy use of all campus buildings. They expect to have all of their baseline data collected by the end of the summer of 2008. Once all of the meters are installed the possibility of campus wide energy reduction competitions to increase awareness and reduce our overall energy use is a great one!

Lighting
Almost all lighting fixtures on campus have switched from incandescent bulbs to the more environmentally friendly Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs).

Vending Machines
Facilities services is looking into installing motion sensors on all vending machines on campus to reduce the amount of time that they are running and potentially saving the university energy which can also lead to some serious cost savings.

Energy Star Appliances
In 2007 Facilities Services made a policy mandating that all new appliances purchased on campus be Energy Star. There has also been the idea of inserting a similar policy in the student handbook about the types of appliances that students might bring onto campus.