Archive for the 'Measurement' Category

Calculating Scope 3 Emissions: One University’s Experience

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by

Today’s post is by guest author Mary Whitney, University Sustainability Coordinator for Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. It was originally offered as a response to an inquiry on GRNSCH-L, a mailing list for college and university sustainability professionals, about how to compile data for Scope 3 emissions for faculty and staff commuting distances and frequency. You can contact Mary at MWhitney At chatham.edu.

Accounting for Scope 3 requires a lot of figuring out what are your institutional  “indicators” that can give you a sound figure, even if it is imperfect. I always try to build in assumptions that would result in over-estimating carbon burden.

Over the last 5 years I’ve refined our commuting report and would be glad to share what we’ve developed. I still have to figure out how to account for Prius vs. Hummer issues yet though, so I’d be glad of advice on that!

When we’ve compared it to surveys, it is MORE reliable. We used to have to set up the survey, then all the reminders trying to get enough responses, etc. It was a real pain and took too much time, and it wasn’t even very accurate. Then we switched to having people put in their miles when they filled out the parking permit form, but it was wildly inaccurate – people were  just guessing.

Here’s what we have worked out since:

In order to park a car on campus you have to have a permit, and so we get a list of all permit holders from the transportation office. I have the make/model and the zipcode for each person. I correlate that with a report from HR that tells me if they’re faculty or staff, 12-month or 9-month, full or part time, and another from the registrar with students full or part time.

We then assume that full time is every day, 5 days a week. This is often NOT the case, but this way we won’t undercount trips. Part-time is considered to be 3 days a week, although again, it is often less. This assumes you’re here for a MWF schedule, even though many people are only doing T/TH. I can’t tell, but again, the assumption is that it’s more trips, not less. Faculty and students are counted for 36 weeks, staff work 49.

In cases where someone is part-time but attends every day, I would undercount, but so far I haven’t found many. It would be technically possible, I suppose, to cross-tab that with more registrar data, but that would be too burdensome, and I’ve made the decision not to do that. I figure that that possibility will be evened out by the person that is counted as full-time but does one marathon day of classes, 9-9pm. So afar I’ve found one of each of those extremes, so it seems a fair way to calculate.

Then I use a site that lets me set a radius from a zipcode. I saved a list of all zipcodes in various radii from the campus. We do every mile up to 25 miles, then jump to 30, then up to 50. I calculated them at www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm.

We tested the zipcode radius with many people’s real mileage, and it was surprisingly (and happily) very close!  As a way to get a good number without putting a mileage recorder on their car, it works well. We always include the summer campers, using registration data from the camp. I assume that kids living over 50 miles are actually staying with Grandma nearby, calculated at 5 miles away, and we assume that anyone living less than 1/2 mile is driving, although in reality most of the people that live that close walk to camp each day, as we discovered! Again, overestimating so we don’t underestimate.

Then I have a spreadsheet calculate the whole mess. For example, Zipcode 11111 is 6 miles away, Jane Doe lives in 11111 , works full-time as staff on a 12-month contract. 6×2 for each day, x5 days a week, x 49 weeks = 2940 miles per year. Believe it or not, it is actually simple once you get the basic spreadsheet set up. The zipcode distances auto-populate, and so does a code for FT, PT, etc.

I do a similar thing with students and faculty who do not have parking permits, with the assumption that they are taking the bus, unless they are on the bike commuter list that get the tax credit.

If someone is getting dropped off by car and never has a permit, I cannot account for that, but they are at least captured somewhat in the bus calculations. There are also people who I KNOW walk to campus every day, but I calculate them as at least bus commuters, figuring it helps even out and reduce undercounting carbon impact. Not perfect, but everyone gets counted somewhere a little.

 

Some observations about green college and university ratings

Friday, August 16th, 2013 by

This post originally appeared on Environmental News Bits.

Earlier this week, I posted about the Princeton Review’s list of green colleges and universities. Now, Sierra Magazine has released their seventh annual list.

Interestingly, two of the top three schools on Sierra’s list didn’t make the Princeton Review’s Honor Roll (perfect score of 99). They were the University of California-Davis (number 3 on Sierra’s list) and the University of Connecticut (number 1 on Sierra’s list).

This discrepancy made me curious, so I investigated further. Sierra Magazine and the Princeton Review collaborated with AASHE and the Sustainable Endowments Institute to create the Campus Sustainability Data Collector (CSDC), which is meant to simplify reporting for schools. In other words, they appear to be using the same data set. The Princeton Review has more information on the partnership here.

The CSDC FAQ offers this advice to schools who use the aggregated service:

How do I know what information to complete for each organization?
The Princeton Review and Sierra magazine have identified the specific data fields of particular interest that they are looking for institutions to complete. A link to both organizations’ websites outlining the specific STARS credits they are seeking is posted in the “Share Data” section of the STARS Reporting Tool and Campus Sustainability Data Collector. Please note, the Sustainable Endowments Institute has suspended the production of the College Sustainability Report Card and will no longer be seeking data for this publication.

CSDC’s Data Sharing Overview has this to say:

The Princeton Review and Sierra magazine are seeking data from specific STARS credits to be considered in their evaluation of institutional sustainability efforts for their publications.  In addition, Sierra magazine is seeking one supplemental data field (SD 10). Any information documented in the supplemental section does not impact a STARS rating and will not be posted publicly in an institution’s STARS Report. Completing these fields is optional but important if your institution would like to be considered for inclusion in Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools issue.

I also took a look at the methodologies for the respective lists (Sierra Magazine’s is here, Princeton Review’s is here). Sierra Magazine has this to say about their evaluation criteria:

Evaluation was based primarily on schools’ responses to the survey but when appropriate, we made follow-up inquires by phone and e-mail and used publicly available outside sources to verify and complement survey responses. Final ranking decisions, however, were based on our scoring key, a rubric which emphasizes the Sierra Club’s environmental priorities and rewards schools that do a good job of measuring and mitigating their impact. When it came to survey responses, all submitted materials were considered, though where answers were blank, unclear, or inconsistent, institutions were not awarded full credit.

The Princeton Review provides a list of their required CSDC fields here. They also state:

We asked all the schools we annually collect data from to answer questions about their efforts to provide (and continually develop) an environmentally beneficial student experience. The questions were created in consultation with ecoAmerica, a research- and partnership-based environmental nonprofit that convened an expert committee to design this comprehensive ranking system.

To sum up, although colleges and universities submit their data using the same system, each organization uses a specific subset of that data to compile their lists and, at least in the case of Sierra Magazine, may also have additional evaluation criteria.

TRI P2 Tool and Tipsheet

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 by

I’m sharing this at the request of David Sarokin of EPA’s P2 program. I’ve also added the links to the Statistics and Data Sets tab (http://uiuc.libguides.com/p2/stats) on the Pollution Prevention 101 resource guide, which is available at http://uiuc.libguides.com/p2.

EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program would like to make you aware of a new pollution prevention search tool and ask for your help in sharing a TRI P2 Tip-sheet with any TRI reporting facilities you may work with. Note that all resources described below can be found at www.epa.gov/tri/p2.

TRI Pollution Prevention Search

TRI recently launched a new web tool to highlight reported P2 practices that reduce the use and environmental impact of toxic chemicals. This TRI Pollution Prevention Search displays TRI information collected under the Pollution Prevention Act in an integrated, easy-to-use fashion. The key strength of this tool is that it combines standardized, quantitative environmental metrics with qualitative information on the organizations and activities that have demonstrated environmental improvements (as described in the TRI P2 Fact Sheet).

P2 Reporting Tipsheet

If you’ve worked with one of the 20,000+ facilities that meet the TRI reporting criteria and helped them to reduce their toxic chemical pollution, then the optional P2 section of their TRI report is an opportunity to share these efforts! We encourage you to share the P2 Reporting Tipsheet with relevant facilities in advance of the July 1st TRI reporting deadline, along with any details you suggest including on their TRI report. If you wish you may include details about what was accomplished and who provided assistance in the writeable “notes” section on the front of the tip sheet.

Reporting this information through TRI is win-win-win for the facility, the TAP, and the public, as it publicly highlights organizations and companies who promote and implement P2 while also enabling EPA data users to learn about effective P2 practices and available resources. For more information, feel free to contact Daniel Teitelbaum of the TRI Program at Teitelbaum.daniel@epa.gov.

Conduct More Powerful TRI Pollution Prevention Searches

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 by

The EPA TRI Program released an enhanced version of the TRI Pollution Prevention (P2) Search in Envirofacts, featuring new and more powerful ways to search the TRI database for P2 activities reported by TRI facilities.

You’ll now be able to:

  • Use multi-select capabilities to focus your P2 search on one or more industries, chemicals, states, or years
  • Use “type ahead” features to search by keyword, industry code, or chemical
  • Search using predefined chemical groupings, such as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) or Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) chemicals
  • Sort results to find reported P2 activities corresponding with the largest reductions in releases to specific environmental media, overall releases, or total waste managed

Catch Up on the Most Recent TRI P2 Webinar

Did you miss last month’s TRI webinar? Don’t worry – you can still learn how to find, analyze, and visualize TRI’s P2 data! The recording, transcripts, and presentation slides from “Exploring TRI’s Pollution Prevention Information” are now available at www.chemicalright2know.org/2013-webinars/spring-2013-webinar.

For additional background on TRI and P2, visit www.epa.gov/tri/p2 and the resources on www.chemicalright2know.org.

Learn to use TRI’s pollution prevention data to target technical assistance

Monday, March 4th, 2013 by

For the past quarter-century, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) has provided information about toxic chemicals released from industrial facilities in communities across the nation.  In addition to informing citizens of releases in their areas, however, TRI also contains a plethora of information about pollution prevention activities and how, in many cases, facilities have switched to safer chemicals or safer waste management alternatives.  Now, information about effective pollution prevention practices is easier to access than ever.

To find out more, join the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), and the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s Safer Chemistry Challenge Program for the free webinar: Exploring the Toxics Release Inventory’s Pollution Prevention Information:  A New Resource and a P2 Provider’s Perspective, on March 20, 2013 from 2:00-3:30 pm EDT.  Register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/269134136.

This webinar will provide an overview of the pollution prevention and waste management data collected by the TRI Program and introduce participants to a new search tool that makes this information easy to access, visualize, and use.  Additionally, participants will hear about the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), how they use the TRI information, and how they plan to integrate the new pollution prevention tool into their outreach activities.

Featured speakers will include:

  • Daniel Teitelbaum, Pollution Prevention Staff Lead, TRI Program Division, Office of Environmental Information, US EPA
  • Laura Babcock, Ph.D., Director, MnTAP
  • Robert Lundquist, Senior Engineer, MnTAP

Webinar: P2 GHG and Cost Savings Tools

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 by

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CST
Register at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/661478870

EPA, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention will be presenting an overview of P2 tools designed to help measure the environmental and economic performance results of pollution prevention activities.  Come hear how newly designed tools can demonstrate the unique multi-media perspective that P2 brings to reduce GHG reductions and cost savings.  Natalie Hummel and Kathy Davey of the Pollution Prevention Division will be presenting.

P2 Greenhouse Gas Calculator:
The P2 GHG Calculator calculates GHG emission reductions from electricity conservation, green energy, fuel and chemical substitutions with lower GHG-intensities, water conservation, and improved materials and process management in the chemical manufacturing sector. This tool will assist program participants to submit higher-quality data for the program measure, and demonstrates the unique multi-media perspective that P2 brings to reduce metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e).

P2 Cost Savings Calculator:
The P2 Cost Calculator assesses cost savings associated with reduced costs for hazardous inputs in a facility process, reduced costs for handling hazardous waste, reductions in annual air permitting fees that are based on actual emissions, reduced water discharge treatment costs based on gallons discharged, reduced charges for water usage, reduced fuel costs, and reduced costs for electricity.   Understanding potential cost savings presents a big incentive for action and collaboration to program beneficiaries.

Gallons to Pounds Converter:
This is designed to provide conversions from units commonly encountered in business to units needed for P2 Program measures.  It is not uncommon for hazardous materials to be measured in gallons for business purposes – gallons of paint, and gallons of waste water, for example.  For program purposes, all these gallon measures need to be converted to pounds of hazardous materials for the program measure “pounds of hazardous materials reduced.”

DoD Environmental Monitoring & Data Quality Workshop Announcement, Call for Papers

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 by

The DoD Environmental Data Quality Workgroup is pleased to announce the 8th annual DoD Environmental Monitoring & Data Quality Workshop, which includes technical training sessions, technical presentations, a plenary session featuring distinguished speakers, a Q&A forum, component meetings, a poster session, an update on the DoD ELAP, and networking opportunities with members of the environmental community. This workshop is open to all interested environmental professionals involved with DoD sites or projects including representatives from the DoD services, other federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, academia, and the private sector. Possible training categories for this workshop include: DoD QSM 4.2 and Proposed v5 Update, Vapor Intrusion, Corrective Action Processes and Root Cause Analyses, MMRP, Emerging Contaminants and Disposal of Nanomaterials, and Environmental Forensics.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Deadline Extended for Call for P2 Results Data

Friday, November 5th, 2010 by

This is an announcement of the extension of the deadline for submitting P2 results data for calendar years 2007, 2008, and 2009. The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) / Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) P2 Results Task Force requests that your program submits P2 results data to your regional P2Rx Center for input into the P2 Results Data System.  If your program has already submitted 2007 through 2009 data, then we thank you and ignore this request.

For 2007 and 2008 data, the deadline has been extended to November 12, 2010. For 2009 data, the deadline has been extended to December 31, 2010.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Call For P2 Results Data, Calendar Years 2007, 2008 & 2009

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 by

The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) / Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) P2 Results Task Force requests that your agency/program submit P2 results data for the calendar years 2007, 2008, and 2009 to your regional P2Rx center (GLRPPR for U.S. EPA Region 5) for input into the P2 Results Data System per the P2 Results Memorandum of Understanding. The P2 Results Data collection will begin on August 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Seeking Training Opportunities to Demonstrate EMFACT

Thursday, January 21st, 2010 by

Energy & Materials Flow & Cost Tracker (EMFACT)

NEWMOA and the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) have developed a materials use and profitability software tool, called Energy & Materials Flow & Cost Tracker (EMFACT) and recently made it available online free for download. Please check it out. We are currently seeking opportunities to conduct training workshops on EMFACT for small and medium-sized manufacturers, regulatory program staff, and/or technical assistance providers and consultants. This training could be in the form of a webinar, a half day or full day in-person workshop, or an in-person presentation at a conference or workshop. Please send an email to Terri Goldberg if you are interested in exploring such opportunities. NEWMOA has funding to support this training.

Here’s more on what EMFACT is –

EMFACT is designed to be used within small and medium-sized companies for systematically tracking materials and energy use; releases, discharges, and wastes; and associated costs in ways that can create value for their business. The tool can provide a comprehensive picture of resource use and its relation to production and planning that will help improve both business and environmental performance. We have been hearing from users that EMFACT™ can provide critical support for pollution prevention efforts within firms and for technical assistance providers and consultants that are working with firms.

EMFACT’s benefits to its users are:

  • Easy navigation and data management
  • Connecting material inputs and all outputs, including products, wastes, and other environmental releases to estimate mass balances and flows
  • Effective tracking of all material inputs, including chemicals, commodities, and fuels, and their associated costs
  • Effective tracking of all wastes, wastewater discharges, and air emissions
  • Automated reminders and notices about upcoming reporting and other deadlines
  • Automated reports on materials use efficiency and environmental releases
  • Easy transfer of data to spreadsheets for further analysis and reports

EMFACT was funded by a grant from the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development.

Download EMFACT for Free at: http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/emfact/.