Green Amherst

Carbon Inventory

Amherst College began a detailed historic inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in June 2007.Conor McDowell (‘09) conducted the study using Clean Air – Cool Planet's GHG Emissions Inventory Calculator and was advised by Energy Manager Todd Holland and Professor Whitey Hagadorn.

Preliminary data shows results similar to those at other area residential colleges — that electricity consumption and fuel burned on-site for heat comprises over 90% of the GHG emissions. Amherst College's GHG footprint for 2006 was 29,191 tons of equivalent carbon dioxide (eCO2) emissions.

For ease of comparison and to create a standard of measurement, the GHGs are equated and expressed in carbon dioxide equivalents (eCO2). eCO2 is the combined global warming potential of several pollutants, chiefly:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): global warming potential (GWP) = 1.0
  • Methane (CH4): GWP = 23 times that of CO2
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (N2O or NOx): GWP= 296

Source: EPA: US Emissions Inventory 2003


Amherst's GHG emissions peaked in 2005 at 29% over 1990 levels. Although conservation measures realized a significant (9%) reduction in 2006, we are still 18% above 1990 levels.

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Emissions by Source2
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Emissions with Cogen2
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Pre- and Post-Cogen GHG Emissions
Post-Cogen GHG Emissions

The cogeneration plant, expected to be on-line in 2008, will make a very significant reduction in GHG emissions and should drop us to 5% below 1990 levels.The Kyoto Protocol specifies a goal 7% below 1990 levels for the US by 2012, and this is entirely attainable by combining cogeneration with conservation and efficiency measures.