Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) at CUIMC

April 12, 2022

Under the Sustainable Columbia Plan 2030, Columbia University has committed to achieve net zero emissions no later than 2050. The net zero emissions trajectory will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 42% from 2019. Within that plan, CUIMC is committed to reduce emissions at a pace consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change global mitigation pathways established to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The latest IPCC report was released this month and says that we are likely to overshoot the 1.5°C target set under the Paris Agreement, instead seeing an increase of 2.4°C to 3.5°C by 2100. One of many resources that the IPCC provides, the mitigation pathways are essentially scenarios that entities and organizations can use to map out their own efforts to limit global warming, in this case they are related to emissions reduction.

Since the ultimate goal is limiting global warming and one strategy for that is carbon emissions reductions, we need to know what those emissions have been and what they need to be moving forward. That means we need to ensure accurate, consistent, and credible carbon emissions data.

In 2019, CUIMC voluntarily submitted its greenhouses gases emissions data to The Climate Registry (TCR), a nonprofit organization that is governed by U.S States and operates the Carbon Footprint Registry which is North America’s largest voluntary registry for greenhouses gas (GHG) emissions. CUIMC’s data was verified for accuracy by an independent agency before being accepted by The Climate Registry. The most arduous tasks according to CUIMC’s Indrajeet Viswanathan, Director of Energy Management and Sustainability was gathering the necessary data, reporting back and forth to the consultant who verified our report, and ultimately converting the data to carbon emissions. Carbon Emissions Data is generally divided into these 3 scopes:

  • Scope 1 includes fuel consumption on site, company vehicles, and tracking fugitive emissions.
  • Scope 2 included purchased electricity as well as heat and steam produced within CUIMC buildings.
  • Scope 3 includes purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, and waste disposal.

It was a worthwhile yet time-consuming task, but after two years of data-gathering efforts, Viswanathan created an inventory of CUIMC carbon emissions encompassing eight years (2012-2019). The inventory for 2020 and 2021 is currently being verified. For those efforts and their results demonstrating clear climate leadership, CUIMC was awarded the Gold Status by The Climate Registry. Continuing to publish independently verifiable carbon emissions data demonstrates progress towards 2030, 2035, and 2050 goals and highlights/emphasizes CUIMC’s commitment to further reduce carbon emissions.

Review CUIMC’s Year 2019’s third party verified data.


Read Part 1: CUIMC Facilities Management Celebrates Earth Month 2022

Read Part 2: Recharge NY and Hydropower in Washington Heights

Read Part 4: CUIMC is Taking Action