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Climate Action - About the Data

The GHG inventory takes an operational approach and includes all Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (purchased electricity) and some Scope 3 (indirect) emissions. The inventory is an estimate of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to Penn State’s operations. Data for the inventory comes from a variety of sources across campus. Best efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the data used. For some sections, primarily Scope 3 emissions, estimates have been made and data has been carried over from previous years. Specifics are provided here to detail what is and what is not included in the inventory and how emissions have been calculated.


Penn State utilizes Energy Management Software to track energy commodity purchasing, energy and water consumption, meter data and real time energy data for a select number of buildings. The Commonwealth Campuses send invoices to University Park for input into the system. This system is the primary source for energy data for the GHG Inventory.

Standard emissions factors based on the carbon content of the fuel input are used. For purchased electricity, Penn State uses the emissions factors provided by EPA's eGRID (Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database) for the specific region a campus is in. University Park, Beaver, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Mont Alto, New Kensington and Shenango campuses are located in the RFCW region. The remaining campuses are located in RFCE. The inventory calculates transmission loss based on the most recent data provided from eGRID. (Y2016-4.49%)

Natural Gas & Oil at the Steam Plants - The University Park campus currently operates two Power Plants that provide steam for heating and hot water on campus. Approximately 20% of the electricity needs of the campus are generated at the plants. Annual fuel use records from the plant for natural gas and oil are used for the inventory.

Natural Gas - For natural gas used outside of the steam plant and at the Commonwealth Campuses, fuel invoice data is used.

Oil & Propane- For fuel oil or propane used outside of the steam plant and at the Commonwealth Campuses, fuel invoice data is used.

Purchased Electricity - Invoice data from the power provider is used.




Standard emissions factors based on the carbon content of the fuel input are used.

Service Fleet - At the University Park campus, actual fuel use records for gas, diesel and CNG from the filling stations is collected. At the Commonwealth Campuses, fuel purchased via Fleet Services fueling cards is used.

Fleet Services - Fleet Services operates an in-house vehicle rental service for University travel. Actual fuel use records from the on-site filling station are used. Each vehicle also comes with a fuel card. Annual fuel use from these cards is also collected. Additional cards are also used by various units and campuses for other fuel purchasing (lawn equipment, etc.). Fleet Services' system identifies the college or campus a particular card is assigned to. This data is gathered and analyzed annually to calculate direct transportation emissions.

Air Travel - University sponsored air travel data is estimated. In the past, most travel was coordinated through a single electronic booking system. The system included a miles traveled estimate for each trip. Data was extracted from this system to develop estimated miles traveled for each campus for several years. Air Travel booked outside the central system or independently and then reimbursed was not included. This effort enabled us to develop a ratio for short, medium and long haul trips. Air Travel booking has become more decentralized. Reports from the Accounting Systems providing air travel expenditures by unit/campus and Airlines for America published average fare paid per mile flown are used to estimate air miles. EPA Center of Corporate Climate Leadership Emissions Factors for short, medium and long haul are used.

Commuters - As part of the initial GHG Inventory conducted in 2004 for University Park, commuter miles were estimated based on available University data and census data. In 2006, commuter miles were estimated for the Commonwealth Campuses based on population and average commutes. For the FY14/15 inventory, faculty, staff and student parking permit data was analyzed using GIS to estimate commuter miles at University Park. The average Faculty/Staff commute is 13.6 miles and the median is 8.6 miles each way. Penn Staters at University Park commute 90 million miles annually.

At University Park, a public transportation system, Centre Area Transportation Authority, is available. CATA utilizes CNG buses. As part of the 2004 inventory, CATA routes were analyzed and an estimate of CATA miles to be attributed to Penn State faculty, staff and students was developed. This effort was updated in 2016.

Penn State contracts with third party travel companies. Travel data from outside companies (ex: charter buses, deliveries, etc.) is not included in the inventory. Student travel at the beginning and end of semesters or any other travel not represented by one of the categories above is not represented in the GHG inventory.




Solid Waste - At University Park, the campus operates its own refuse and recycling department. Actual annual tons of waste sent to the landfill is used. At the Commonwealth Campuses, in 2006 the annual waste to landfill was estimated based on the number and size of dumpsters along with pick-up schedules. The landfill used by each campus was asked for methane recovery information so appropriate emissions factors could be used. The University Park campus operates a small medical waste incinerator. Annual processing data is collected.

Recycling - Penn State has a robust recycling program. Annual recycling rates are calculated for University Park. Although recycling has an impact on GHG emissions from a life-cycle energy standpoint, these Scope 3 emissions savings are not reflected within the bounds of the university GHG Inventory.

Compost - At University Park, OMPEC (Organic Material Processing and Education Center) food residuals, leaves, landscape debris and lab animal cage waste are diverted from the waste stream and processed into compost. Compost is used in landscape management.

Wastewater - On-site wastewater treatment occurs at University Park, New Kensington and Wilkes-Barre campuses. Annual data for each of these operations are used in the inventory. For all other campuses, off-site emissions from wastewater are estimated based on water invoice data.




Synthetic Chemicals - Use of refrigerants and synthetic fertilizers contribute to the emissions inventory. Data has been collected as it is available and has been carried over from previous years.

Animal Management - Farm Operations exist at University Park. Animal counts for cattle, poultry, horses swine and sheep are collected as data is available. Data has been collected as it is available and has been carried over from previous years.

Forest Management - Although Penn State University owns large plots of forested land, no offset has been claimed in the inventory for many years based on the acquisition dates of the properties.