Washington University in St. Louis set an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 through on-site energy conservation, representing a reduction of 51,300 metric tons of CO2.
In 2010, the university set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 without purchasing carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy certificates (RECs). Five years into the effort, we updated the goal to make it even more ambitious: reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 including all campus growth, which required reducing emissions by 51,300 metric tons of CO2 by 2020. The updated goal nearly doubled the reduction required by the previous goal.
The university has been very successful in its campaign to reduce energy use over the last 30+ years, with energy use decreasing by 8% despite more than doubling building square footage from 1990 through 2021. The 2020 emissions goal sharpened our focus on reducing carbon emissions. Emissions peaked in 2010, decreasing by 28% in 2021.
We continue to identify and invest in a wide range of projects that reduce energy use and carbon emissions and provide strong financial paybacks.