Center for Environmental Building & Design

University of Pennsylvania Health System: Carbon Footprint

In 2007, University of Pennsylvania President Gutmann signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). This pledge committed Penn to developing plans for reducing its emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gasses over time to achieve climate neutrality. This report summarizes the initial effort to develop and analyze the carbon footprint of the University of Pennsylvania Health System campus in University City. The UPHS Carbon Footprint is a part of a larger effort to account for the carbon produced beyond the main University of Pennsylvania campus, which will also include carbon footprints for the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center. Carbon footprints are important tools in developing strategies to achieve carbon reduction goals.

The T.C. Chan Center was commissioned to prepare the University of Pennsylvania main campus carbon footprint in cooperation with the Department of Facilities and Real Estate Services and has provided annual updates to this work along with expanded analyses since 2007. A carbon calculator was developed to facilitate the ongoing tracking of carbon emissions at Penn based on the World Resources Institute (WRI) Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which is widely utilized at universities and other organizations including Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager. This calculator was used to organize data for the UPHS and to calculate the carbon footprint for the current fiscal year, 2015. For historical context, the carbon footprint was also calculated for fiscal years 2012-2014.

The gross emissions during this year were 115,078 MTCDE, but subtracting the UPHS share of the wind energy RECs purchased by the University, reduces the net emissions to 99,619 MTCDE. As with most organizations with a significant physical campus, the majority of the emissions were associated with energy use in the buildings. For the UPHS campus consisting of HUP, CAM, and the now defunct Penn Tower this is represented by the use of electricity and steam.

The UPHS carbon footprint presents a snapshot of the carbon emissions for the UPHS, and forms the basis for any action plan to reduce emissions. It identifies the patterns of consumption and activity that produce greenhouse gas emissions, with some examination of the trajectory over the last few y ears. As anticipated, the majority of the emissions are associated with energy used in the built environment and further studies of the buildings and their operation could help
to identify means of reducing energy use.