WMU Measures Its Own Carbon Footprint

Dec 14, 2018

Western Michigan University's gas-fired Beam Power Plant. Transportation and electricity generation both play a significant role in the university's carbon emissions.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Western Michigan University is working on a new, detailed study of its carbon emissions, the first in several years. The school’s latest greenhouse gas inventory will look at major factors such as commuting and generating power. It will also account for impacts from solid waste and even from student air travel for study-abroad programs.

Its scope is expanding. “We’re adding in food,” says WMU Office for Sustainability Director Jeff Spoelstra.

“Food was the one that sort of came forward this time, like ‘Oh we never did that one in the past,’ so we’ll see what that looks like this year.

“Elements of food go into waste or compost or other places, so there’s a greenhouse gas emissions component to food as well, something that we haven’t calculated in the past,” Spoelstra said.

The university has set a goal of going carbon neutral by 2065, but Spoelstra says a recent United Nations report shows the urgency of hitting that target as soon as possible.