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Fuel and Energy Activities

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While scope 1 and 2 emissions encapsulate the emissions associated with direct combustion of goods to produce heat or electricity, the scope 3 Fuel & Energy Activities category includes emissions in the following three categories:

  • Upstream emissions associated with fuels directly combusted by the university: extraction, production, and transportation of fuels consumed. At Stanford, this includes:
    • natural gas used for back-up heating production at the Central Energy Facility (CEF)
    • natural gas used in individual buildings for cooking, water heating, lab equipment and heating equipment (for buildings not connected to the Central Energy Facility)
    • and gasoline and diesel used in the mobile fleet. Emissions from the combustion of these fuels by the university are considered Scope 1 Emissions and are excluded from this category.
  • Upstream emissions of electricity purchased by the university: extraction, production, and transportation of fuels or materials used in the generation of electricity consumed. At Stanford, this includes:
    • Life cycle emissions of solar panels at university-catalyzed solar facilities
    • Upstream emissions from grid electricity associated with the portion of Stanford’s electricity consumption not matched by solar inputs onto the grid
  • Transmission and distribution (T&D) losses: all emissions associated with generation of electricity lost in a T&D system.

View the full Fuel and Energy Activities White Paper


While the Carbon360 software from VitalMetrics was used to estimate these emissions, a custom methodology was introduced to incorporate life cycle emissions from the solar panels at its two offsite solar facilities–which generate the equivalent of 100% of Stanford’s electricity–rather than including upstream emissions from grid electricity.

These scope 3 emissions will be mitigated in conjunction with scope 1 & 2 emissions. Read more information on the university’s pathway to net zero scope 1 & 2 emissions.