An emissions inventory is the first step in developing an effective energy and climate plan. Greenhouse gas emissions fall into three categories:
- Scope 1: direct on-premise fossil fuel combustion and other direct greenhouse gas emissions
- Scope 2: off-premise emissions from purchased grid electricity
- Scope 3: emissions from sources that occur as a result of an institution’s operations but are from sources not owned or directly controlled by the institution
Stanford has reported its official Scope 1 and 2 emissions to The Climate Registry (TCR)1, a non-profit emissions registry for North America, since 2006. These emissions follow TCR's General Reporting Protocol, are third-party verified, and are reported publically on TCR's website. The inventory's geographic boundary includes the Stanford main campus, other owned facilities like Stanford Redwood City, and leased spaces. The boundary does not include emissions from Stanford Hospital and Clinics (SHC) or SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, since they are both distinct organizations that do not fall under the university's operational control.
Stanford University was awarded Climate Registered™ Platinum status for its 2021 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory report submission. Stanford achieved Platinum status through its renewable energy initiatives, annual third-party verification of its emissions inventories, and training attendance, among other criteria.
Stanford’s greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by approximately 68% since its peak emissions level in 2011. With the completion of Stanford’s second solar generation station in early 2022, the university will procure 100% renewable electricity, which will bring emissions reductions to 80% below peak levels. Efficiency gains from high-performing buildings and numerous retrofit programs will continue to yield emissions reductions in the years to come.
Stanford has a program office for Scope 3 Emissions. There are over a dozen categories of Scope 3 emissions, as defined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. While Stanford has calculated and reported on the Business Travel and Commuter Emissions categories for several years, it has now started to compile data for additional categories, such as carbon emissions from air travel, purchased goods, and waste transport and landfill.
1In 2001, the State of California created the nonprofit California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) to facilitate the voluntary accounting and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions within the state. CCAR stopped collecting emissions inventories in 2010 and transitioned its membership to TCR. Stanford joined the CCAR in 2006 and used its protocol to prepare and file its GHG emission inventories through 2009. In 2010, Stanford transitioned to TCR's protocol for its emissions inventory.