Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.66
Liaison Mark Lichtenstein
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
OP-2: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 8.00 / 8.00 Justin Heavey
Sustainability Associate
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Gross Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:
Performance year Baseline year
Gross Scope 1 GHG emissions from stationary combustion 3,145 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 1,781 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Gross Scope 1 GHG emissions from other sources 315 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 226 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Gross Scope 2 GHG emissions from imported electricity 1,189 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 3,383 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Gross Scope 2 GHG emissions from imported thermal energy 2,181 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 3,973 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Total 6,830 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 9,363 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent

Figures needed to determine net carbon sinks:
Performance year Baseline year
Third-party verified carbon offsets purchased 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Institution-catalyzed carbon offsets generated 7,000 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Carbon storage from on-site composting 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Carbon storage from non-additional sequestration 17,000 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent ---
Carbon sold or transferred 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent
Net carbon sinks 7,000 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent

A brief description of the carbon sinks, including vendor, project source, verification program and contract timeframes (as applicable):
As a college of Forestry for over 100 years, ESF in the unique position of managing 25,000 acres of College forest properties across New York State that sequester carbon from the atmosphere in the form of standing biomass (trees) in the forest and below ground biomass (roots and soil carbon). ESF's forest properties serve as a teaching and research laboratory for faculty and students, and produce timber, maple syrup, firewood, recreation opportunities, and other goods and services. In 2009, to meet the carbon neutrality goal of the ACUPCC commitment and climate action plan, ESF forest properties staff members and forestry faculty/researchers identified two properties for official designation as sequestration initiatives and set forth management plans for these areas in-line with forest GHG accounting protocols to ensure that sites are sustainably managed so that growth in carbon stocks exceeds harvest. The 2009 climate action plan designated 2,181 acres of the Pack Demonstration Forest in Warrensburg, NY, and 1,486 acres of Heiberg Memorial Forest in Tully, NY to these activities and calculated a combined sequestration rate for these two parcels of approximately 7,000 MTCO2e per year.

ESF's forest properties are in eight locations, mostly in central New York and the Adirondack region of the state. The total annual aboveground carbon sequestration of all College forests is about two times ESF’s baseline carbon footprint, so ESF forests are sequestering far more GHGs from the atmosphere every year than the College emits. With sustainable forest management, forests can continue to grow, sequester additional carbon in standing biomass and wood products, while also providing a range of ecosystem services and opportunities for teaching and research. In total, the College's forest properties sequester around 24,000 MTCO2e annually, about twice the College's 2007 baseline carbon footprint of 12,145 MTCO2e. According to AASHE STARS reporting guidelines, the 7,000 MTCO2e per year from designated sequestration initiatives in the 2009 climate action plan is accounted for as "Institution-catalyzed carbon offsets generated." This is considered an internally designated, verified, and managed sequestration initiative. The balance of annual sequestration across all ESF forest properties (24,000 - 7,000 = 17,000 MTCO2e) is accounted for under "Carbon storage from non-additional sequestration" under the AASHE reporting frame work.

The inventorying of forest standing biomass to inform carbon sequestration rates has been ongoing through the monitoring of a series of Continuous Forestry Inventory (CFI) plots on the College's forest properties since the 1980’s. ESF forestry faculty/researchers and forest properties staff members train students in hands-on forestry skills to measure the forest plots and contribute to the ongoing data set each summer. CFI data is archived and publicly available on the web. The data has been used in numerous studies by ESF faculty and students, and in several studies in collaboration with colleagues from other institutions. The GHG emissions, or metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2e), sequestered in standing forest biomass is calculated by ESF forestry faculty for comparison with institutional GHG emissions. Active research funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is contributing to more robust analyses of carbon stocks on ESF forest properties, in parallel with studies of forest carbon stock and fluxes at the statewide landscape scale. A summary of the continuous forest inventory methods used to monitor carbon stocks and sequestration rates on ESF forest properties is below:

ESF maintains a series of Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) permanent plots on its forest properties. ESF has over 700 CFI plots located on five different properties--four properties in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York and one property south of Syracuse, in central New York. Plots cover northern hardwood species including sugar maple, red maple, yellow birch, beech, white ash, and red oak, as well as softwood species such as white pine, hemlock, red spruce, balsam fir and pine/softwood plantations of various species. Data is collected at ten year intervals on each property starting from initial plot establishment. Plot information collected includes: location information, slope, aspect, forest type, cutting history, and photo of plot. Tree information/measurements include (in general, trees greater than 3.6 inches diameter at breast height): tree tag number, species, tree history, diameter at breast height, sawlog height, bole height, total height, crown vigor, crown class, tree location, and tree notes. Data is collected/field checked/edited according to detailed written procedures by ESF professional forest management staff with assistance of students. Data is collected to monitor general forest health, growth rates, mortality, and overall forest metrics. Data is used to calculate standing volumes, stocking of forest trees, carbon stocking in addition to other information. (Breitmeyer, B.W., M.K. Gooden, M.J. Appleby, R. Ash, and J. Rahn. 2019. Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI), 1970-2017, Long-term Forest Property Monitoring by State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, New York, USA ver 1. Environmental Data Initiative.)

Adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions:
Performance year Baseline year
Adjusted net GHG emissions 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 9,363 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Performance year Baseline year
Start date July 1, 2018 July 1, 2006
End date June 30, 2019 June 30, 2007

A brief description of when and why the GHG emissions baseline was adopted:
Former President Cornelius Murphy made SUNY a charter signatory of The American College and Universities President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2007 and committed to use fiscal year 2007 as the baseline for ESF's carbon footprint and mitigation strategies.

Figures needed to determine “Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance year Baseline year
Number of students resident on-site 556 0
Number of employees resident on-site 10 0
Number of other individuals resident on-site 12 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 1,878.60 1,955
Full-time equivalent of employees 563.50 540
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 10 0
Weighted Campus Users 1,977.57 1,871.25

Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user:
Performance year Baseline year
Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user 0 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent 5.00 Metric tons of CO2 equivalent

Percentage reduction in adjusted net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions per weighted campus user from baseline:

Gross floor area of building space, performance year:
1,265,328 Gross square feet

Floor area of energy intensive building space, performance year:
Floor area
Laboratory space 510,591 Square feet
Healthcare space 0 Square feet
Other energy intensive space 0 Square feet

EUI-adjusted floor area, performance year:
2,286,510 Gross square feet

Adjusted net Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions per unit of EUI-adjusted floor area, performance year:
0 MtCO2e per square foot

A brief description of the institution’s GHG emissions reduction initiatives:
Carbon Footprint Reductions:

The ESF Sustainability Division has been tracking and working to mitigate the College’s carbon footprint since 2007 when former President Cornelius Murphy made ESF a charter signatory of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The first institutional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory for ESF was completed by the Sustainability Division in 2009 and found the College’s carbon footprint to be 12,145 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e), the same amount GHGs as burning 28,000 barrels of oil every year. The Sustainability Division created a Climate Action Plan to improve energy efficiency, reduce fossil fuel use, and reduce GHG emissions to the greatest extent possible, in the near term. Key to the climate action plan was construction of the LEED Platinum Gateway Center and district combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The Gateway Center, despite adding a building, has substantially reduced college utility costs, fossil fuel use, and GHG emissions by offsetting purchased steam and electricity with onsite cogeneration from natural gas and wood biomass pellets. Through these and other clean energy systems, energy conservation measures, and facilities stewardship, ESF has reduced College energy use and GHG emissions by approximately 25% since 2007, the fossil and GHG equivalent of taking 650 cars off the road each year.

In recent years, energy audits and energy conservation initiatives have been extended to ESF satellite campuses. The Director of Energy Management and Utilities and Energy Conservation and Controls Division staff have worked with satellite property director and staff to implement numerous clean energy initiatives to help reduce energy use, fossil fuel dependence, utility bills, and GHG emissions.

ESF Newcomb Campus:

- Numerous energy audits
- Upgrading all florescent light fixtures and removing ballasts
- Installation of motion-sensitive lights in all offices and work spaces in the AEC
- Installation of new thermostats in offices and work spaces in the AEC
- Installation of solar array on the AEC roof feeding energy demand in the AEC building
- Adoption of a reduced temperature guidelines for unoccupied/infrequently occupied buildings
- Upgrades to more efficient boilers in several buildings
- Replacement of garage doors at bio-residences to reduce a point-source heat loss of those structures

ESF Ranger School:

- Numerous energy audits and feasibility studies
- LED lights in all hallways, classrooms, and many of office spaces
- Upgraded air handler/filters allowing for improved heating and AC performance
- Reduced temperature for unused spaces during evenings and weekends

ESF Southern Properties:

- Tully Station Ground-mount PV array
- Upgraded high efficiency vacuum pump for 20-acre sugarbush (maple syrup) tubing system
- LED lighting upgrades in numerous buildings
- Transition from pickup trucks to side by side vehicles to reduce gas consumption

Clean Energy Master Plan:

In 2020, ESF completed work with Ramboll and NYSERDA on the College’s first Clean Energy Master Plan (CEMP). The CEMP modeled utility data, feasibility studies, energy audits, and campus-wide energy planning scenarios for deep decarbonisation. The results showed potential to reduce GHGs an additional 15% (total 40%) from the baseline in the near term, and 80% over the longer term (Figure 2) through a mix of clean energy technologies integrated with strategic green building initiatives and campus infrastructure upgrades. Keys to achieving these pathways and deep carbon footprint reductions are 1) securing 100% renewable purchased electricity through a virtual power purchase agreement (vPPA), which ESF is currently pursuing in partnership with a consortium of SUNY and NYS Colleges, in the near term, and 2) transitioning the college away from purchased steam and natural gas for heating in favor of low carbon, renewable energy sources such as biomass, biofuels, geothermal and electrification, over the longer term.

Carbon Budget:

ESF’s first step and primary commitment to mitigating the College’s carbon footprint remains emissions reductions, requiring substantial time and investment to transition from natural gas to renewable fuels for heating, while continuing to implement energy conservation and facilities stewardship. Nearly two thirds of ESF’s fossil energy use and GHGs still come from natural gas (Figure 3), but high efficiency clean energy solutions exist that can integrate with smart campus buildings and operations. ESF is actively carrying out the Clean Energy Master Plan led by the Director of Energy Management and Utilities and Energy Conservation and Controls Team.

In addition to reducing emissions as much as possible over the short and longer terms, ESF is committed to taking a comprehensive approach to monitoring and mitigating the College’s carbon footprint and quantifying and tracking as many GHG sources, sinks, and fluxes as possible and relevant. In doing so, the College creates opportunities for the integration of campus operations with curriculum and research. Students, faculty, and staff have, and continue to play critical roles and lead the way using the campus as a living lab for forest carbon inventories, forest carbon research and policy, GHG audits and inventories, action plans, and evaluating real initiatives on campus. ESF participates in the Second Nature working group on GHG Accounting for Bioenergy and Forest Sequestration, and the College is evaluating ways to further improve monitoring and mitigation of ESF’s carbon footprint including:

- Quantifying additional scope 3 GHGs such as air travel, purchased goods and waste.
- Quantifying and including additional GHG sinks, sources and fluxes in the ESF carbon budget such as belowground forest biomass.
- Lifecycle assessments of harvest operations on ESF Forest Properties and associated wood products.
- More precise data and reports on forest carbon stocks and fluxes.
- Research on remote sensing of continuous forest inventory plots.
- Visualizations of ESF College Forest regeneration and carbon sequestration over time.
- Second Nature Carbon Offset Network peer-reviewed offset projects such as community tree plantings, silvicultural prescriptions.
- Inclusion of carbon goals in ESF Forest Management Plans.
- Application of PAVER (permanent, additional, verifiable, etc) metrics to offset and sequestration projects.
- Outreach, curriculum and research integrations.
- Support by ESF and ESF students to other SUNY and NYS Colleges in quantifying their forest and campus carbon budgets.
- Refined carbon sequestration data from newly implemented forest inventory software.
- Potential for solar arrays, agrivoltaics, and sustainable land use planning.

Website URL where information about the institution's GHG emissions is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.