Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Committee Member

Dr. Michael Carbajales-Dale, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. David Ladner

Committee Member

Dr. Terry Walker


Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories have become a popular means for colleges and universities to better understand their environmental impact and quantify sustainability efforts. Clemson University is one of the many institutions that signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which explicitly calls for a comprehensive inventory of GHG emissions to be created. In the past, Clemson University has contracted an external consulting firm to quantify Clemson's GHG emissions, however, a transparent method of calculating emissions is needed. Carbon footprinting is an effective method to measure GHG emissions, and carbon footprinting of higher education institutions is currently an underdeveloped research area. As a contribution to efforts on the subject, this research presents the carbon footprint for Clemson University's main campus. This footprint was built using a consumption-based, hybrid life cycle assessment approach and included scope 1 (direct), 2 (indirect from electricity), and 3 (other indirect) GHG emissions. The scope 1 emissions include steam generation, refrigerant usage, univeristy owned vehicles, univeristy owned aircraft, fertilizer application, and wastewater treatment. Scope 2 is electricity generation. Then, scope 3 includes electricity life cycle, transmission and distibution losses, commuting, univeristy related travel, paper usage, waste and recycling transportation, wastewater treatment chemicals, and water treatment. The total carbon footprint of Clemson University's main campus in 2014 was calculated to be 95,000 metric tons CO2-e, sources of uncertainty include data quality and the streamlined life cycle assessment approach. This research found that 49% of GHG emissions were from electricity related activities, while fossil fuel dependent activities such as automotive commuting (18%), steam generation (16%), and university related travel (13%) added significantly to the footprint. Overall, creating a reproducible baseline carbon footprint can be used to compare Clemson against other higher education institutions, while helping develop goals, strategies, and policies to reduce emissions. The high emissions related to electricity could be decreased through increased renewable energy sourcing. Therefore, as a further component of this research, LiDAR data was utilized in GIS to demonstrate campus rooftop photovoltaic potential.



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